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6 Gaping Holes Leaders Must Address

Gap 5: Overfunctioning.

Description: The pastor who overfunctions is usually an overachiever who takes ownership and responsibility for the emotional well-being of others, often trying to make up for the perceived deficiency in somebody else’s functioning.

Metaphor: Female worker bees. They do almost every task in a beehive while the male bees look on, present only to mate with the queen bee. The female worker bees literally work themselves to death when flowers bloom. They usually die within five weeks. They die alone, away from the colony they exhausted their lives for.

Characteristics: very hard worker, seldom asks for help, tries too much to help, assumes increasing responsibility for others, tells others what they need to feel/think/do, does for others what they should do for themselves, often demands agreement from others, can foster learned helplessness in others, often highly approval oriented

Biblical character with this gap: Moses. I don’t mean to pick on Moses again, but he was probably guilty of overfunctioning when he tried to act as judge for all the disputes from the people (Ex 18). Fortunately, he heeded the advice to delegate that his father-in-law, Jethro, suggested. Martha would be another example evidenced in her anxiety about preparing a meal for Jesus while Mary sat at His feet (Lk 10.38-42).

Gap 6: Underfunctioning.

Description: Pastors with a gap of underfunctioning seem always to need help but never seem to change. They don’t take appropriate responsibility and often want someone else to fix them.

Metaphor: Whipped puppy

Characteristics: highly dependent on looking to others to know what to do next, unnecessarily asks for advice, often passive, ask others to do what he should do for himself, easily sucked into groupthink, gives in most of the time

Biblical character with this gap: Saul. 1 Samuel 17 describes a pointed example of this gap. It describes the story of when Goliath taunted Saul and his men. Saul should have taken responsibility and fought him. Instead, he gave the responsibility to the then shepherd boy David to fight him. Saul’s passivity was one of many chinks in his armor.

I believe every pastor struggles with at least one of these gaps. Fortunately, God promises us that by His Holy Spirit we can rely on Him and He will fill those gaps. This verse encourages me when I struggle, and I hope it does you.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet 1.3, NIV)

In my next blog, I will suggest practical pointers in overcoming each gap.

What other leadership gaps have you seen in leaders?  

Taken from People-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership (Inter-varsity Press, 2014, used with permission).

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