Where Do You Need to Step Up?

Last week I talked about the ways we work too hard and take too much responsibility. But church leaders are not only overfunctioners. We often underfunction in some areas, as well. Some clergy who work like crazy at church underfunction at home as parents and spouses. And even in church life itself, some clergy underfunction. Some are depressed and not doing their job as a result. Some are just not working very hard.

For some, their underfunctioning shows up in missed appointments and late deadlines. Over time (and it’s a long slow process) we can get better in some of these areas if we are willing to work on them. One of my colleagues who struggles in the area of administrative life has asked one of her church leaders to help her. It can be humbling to ask for help, but when the people see a leader who is willing to work on areas of weakness while still focusing in his or her strengths, that sends a powerful message.

Where do you underfunction? I’m hate dealing with cars, and for years I let my husband take care of it. At least I take my own car into the mechanic for regular oil changes now instead of depending on him to do it. But when there’s a real problem I ask him to take care of it.

Both overfunctioning and underfunctioning are driven by anxiety. When we overfunction, we are anxious about others and so we step in where we shouldn’t in ways, that don’t help them grow. Conversely, we may be anxious about some area of our life and so we never pay attention to it, in the vain hope that it will go away, or in the not-so-vain hope that someone else will take care of it for us.

Where do you need to step up?

2 replies on “Where Do You Need to Step Up?

  • Margaret Marcuson

    Thanks, Marc. I guess the ideal balance would be to function rather than over- or underfunction. But I do think we all have certain rhythms of work. Just noticing what they are is progress.

  • Marc RIce

    Oh Man! Now I can’t hide out in the underfunction crowd either. 🙂 Who will rescue me from this awful predicament? When I get tired and worn out I tend to underfunction in pastoral care– avoiding engaging needy members of the congregation at times– When My energy is up I tend to over-extend my empathy arms–taking what may be too long with the lonely person– spending more time in some instances than is reasonable to expect me to maintain in the future– then I get tired, avoid, underfunction, etc… It can be a repeating cycle. I am really seeking Balance through this Advent season– best laid plans and all that– Thanks for a thought-provoking article-


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