Dwight L. Moody once said that he would rather put a thousand men to work than do the work of a thousand men. I’ve learned to hard way that I either delegate or suffocate. Chuck Lawless shares 8 reasons why we sometimes take on more than we can handle.

Originally published by Chuck Lawless 

I read again this week this quote from J. Oswald Sanders: “It is a big mistake to assume more duties than we can discharge.”[1] Just like the first time I read it years ago, it convicted me and challenged me—and reminded me that I’ve not yet learned all the Lord has been challenging me to learn. Here are some reasons I, like so many others, “assume more than we can discharge.” 

  1. We’re convinced we can, in fact, do it all. We usually intellectually know better, but we practically act otherwise. We take on more because we’re wrongly convinced we can do more. 
  2. We’re convinced that no one else can do it as well as we can. And, it might be in some cases that we’re more equipped to do something—but none of us can do everything better than others. Not one of us is that good. 
  3. We haven’t adequately discipled others to use their own gifts well. Our failure to disciple others means we have baby believers in our churches (often in leadership positions)—and we think it’s just easier to do the work ourselves than fix the discipleship issue. 
  4. We think it takes too long to get others ready to do the work. It usually does take a while to train others, but our unwillingness to be patient and persistent seldom results in our being a better leader. We instead burn out in the name of our “sacrificial commitment.” 
  5. We haven’t learned how to say, “no.” No matter how many other commitments we have on the calendar, to say “no” to any ministry opportunity seems to be neglectful at best, disobedient at worst. In some cases, we even pride ourselves in always being available. 
  6. We don’t listen to others who encourage us to find greater balance. Sometimes it’s our spouse. Or a trusted friend. Or a fellow elder. Or a child. Or anyone else who just cares about us and who reads our heart better than we do ourselves. We ignore their advice to our peril. 
  7. We sometimes equate busyness with faithfulness and commitment. The more we do, the more we convince ourselves that we’re walking right where God wants us to walk—even when we often know better. 
  8. We haven’t learned from our own histories. That is, we can remember times when we carried a huge stress load because we had taken on too much. We remember the cost—sometimes a heavy one—for our poor choices in the past. We just haven’t learned from those times. 

What would you add to this list?