Jonathan and I recently celebrated our 41st year in ministry and marriage. We have come through a lot of challenges, struggles and seasons of intense pressure. We are eternally grateful for God’s grace and patience with us. His faithfulness is truly great.
When I think back to some of the seasons of pressure, I realize that a lot of it was self-imposed. Our perception of ministry was not a healthy one and surely not sustainable, as we would soon find out.
I’m very grateful for my Christian upbringing and my family’s deep commitment to our church. This provided great roots for me and it's where I learned a servant’s heart and a love for the local church. Church was definitely my home away from home as I spent much of my time there involved in everything and anything I could. I met my best friends in church and we did everything together - we were even in each others weddings and we are still great friends to this day. I loved my church and I loved the work of God.
We are all products of our environment and it can be good or it can be bad depending on the environment we have been exposed to. Mine was great but there was a mindset that I observed and really didn’t know I absorbed until much later when we entered into full time ministry. I’m calling it the #1 Leadership Lie because we would soon learn how the enemy would try to infiltrate this deception into the core of who we were to discourage us and try to intimidate us out of our calling.
The #1 Leadership Lie is thinking you need to know everything.
You may think that is nothing to be intimidated about, but let me assure you, it made its great attempts on us in multiple ways, and in various seasons of our ministry. The pull to think we need to know it all about everything and that it is weak leadership not to be an expert on everything was real to us back then and I know it is very real to many of you today. Its probably the one area we spend the most amount of time on when working with and coaching other Pastors and leaders.
We can beat ourselves up pretty bad on this when we buy into the lie that every other leader knows everything about everything except for me. We begin to compare ourselves with others who we love and respect and don’t realize they are dealing with the same lie as well. Its the enemies attempt to pull us off track and make us ineffective. We then neglect to recognize the gifts God has put in us and what we bring to the leadership table. Its at this point that we throw their hands up in the air and begin to entertain the thought that we aren’t qualified and that someone else should be doing our assignment because “they know it all.”
What a day of freedom it was for Jonathan and for me when we finally saw that we didn’t need to know everything, all we needed to do was search out the people who had expertise in the areas we didn’t. Jonathan would say, “Look for the cream that rises to the top and scoop it off.” That is exactly what we began to do years ago and we still do today. Jonathan always says we need to be good scouts looking out for the potential in people and then committing to developing those gifts. He’s a pretty smart guy!
How could one person possibly know everything? There is only one “all-knowing One” and its not me or you!
“I need to know it all” - This mindset creeps into every area of life. Wives looks at other married women thinking they have it all together - they don’t! The young mother thinks every other woman is a better more committed mother than she is. They aren’t! The executive thinks the others have it all together - they don’t! And leaders can look at other leaders thinking they are all knowing about everything - they aren’t!
I think this was probably Moses’ problem and why Jethro had to intervene before Moses did himself in with the pressure of thinking he had to know it all and have the right answers for everyone. (Ex 18:17,18 HCSB) We read that Moses was attempting the lone ranger approach to leadership unaware that things were getting ready to implode and it would be the end to his leadership and to the health of his followers. His father-in-law Jethro is observing all of this chaos and he comes on the scene with some great wisdom. He says to Moses,
“What you’re doing is not good... You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone”
This is when Moses began to distribute the weight of leadership and develop teams. Moses didn’t have to carry the pressure to know it all. There were obviously other leaders all around him who came along aside him with their supply of wisdom and knowledge and began to alleviate the weight off of Moses.
There are people all around us with a supply of wisdom and knowledge that we need but living under the lid of having to know know everything, keeps us blind to the potential in people.
Today, ask God to open your eyes and ears. Ask Him to open your eyes to the people He has already sent you that have the knowledge you so desperately need about areas you know nothing about. And ask him to open your ears to hear, once again, the direction He is wanting you to go, but you were afraid because you didn’t know everything about what He was asking you to do.
Don’t allow the leadership lie of thinking you need to know everything keep you from fulfilling the great things God has assigned for you to do!