Years ago Lorne Sanny, President of the Navigators, made the following statement:

“If your input doesn’t exceed your output, then your upkeep will be your downfall.”

It sounds trite, but it’s also profound.

Part of these inputs are:

  • Sleep
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Eating healthily 
  • Hobbies
  • Having fun

Ignoring, or not giving attention to these “Inputs”  can eventually lead to our downfall and all that may entail. 

I have said for years that most leaders travel too fast and are trying to do too much. There’s not enough margin and not sufficient or appropriate boundaries. We need His wisdom as to what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. We need to learn how to say yes to less. 

It seems to me that the number of tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, over-committed and overworked leaders is on the uptick.

Recently I came to this in my Bible reading:

“We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. We are not reaching beyond these boundaries.”—2 Corinthians 10:13,14a NLT.

I checked out the word “boast” and it has the idea of focus, rejoicing in, paying attention to— not boast as we generally understand it.

Paul seems to have clearly understood that there were areas of authority he had been given and boundaries he needed to establish. He mentions this early on in Acts 20:24. He alludes to his assignment again in 1 Corinthians 3:5 ESV: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.” 

As leaders, we each have our God-given assignments and there are limits as to what we should or could do. There is only one who is infinite and it isn’t me or you!

Here are a few observations I’ve gleaned from 2 Corinthians 10:13,14a:

1. God gives spiritual authority over certain areas to leaders. Perhaps this is based on a combination of gifts, calling and God-given vision. 

2. It’s healthy to set up boundaries around the work He’s given us so we don’t wind up doing somebody else’s work.

3. By saying that the work given to us includes certain things or people it, by default, also excludes other things and people. Even Jesus moved on leaving behind people in need—Mark 1: 35-39. NeitherJesus nor Paul seemed to be “Driven onto the reef of frustration” by the demands and needs of others: “Tyranny of the Urgent” booklet. They both seem to have a good sense of boundaries and priorities. 

Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote a very helpful book simply titled “Boundaries.” Here is my Book Note on it. Boundaries.

I’m wondering if the legion of overtired and overwhelmed leaders we are seeing is in part due to not establishing sufficient and appropriate boundaries. 

I love to work—love it too much! I need to be very careful that I don’t let the work dominate my life so as not to take sufficient time to lead myself well and to pay attention to my wife, my four kids and my seven grandkids—boundaries!