Leadership Lies and the God Who Gives Freedom

North Carolina winters are often filled with the delightful hope of snow succumbing to the disappointing reality called freezing rain. It leaves the roads dangerously slick, and it coats every surface with a layer of ice, especially trees. As the sunlight shines through the ice-laden branches, the trees glisten with beauty. However, the ice covering is actually dangerous for the trees. It causes the branches to bow down, struggling under the weight of the ice. One morning, we woke to find a tree in our front yard split in three directions by the weight of the ice it was bearing. What looked beautiful destroyed the tree.

As a woman in ministry, it’s easy to feel weighed down by everyone’s needs and expectations. For years, I succumbed to the lie the at as a woman on staff, it was my job to be there in every crisis, to arrive early and stay late at every social event, and to be on call whenever someone needed me. Even on vacation, I remember spending an hour on the phone with someone struggling through a problem, while my family was sun-screened and ready, waiting for me finish.

It might look beautiful to attend to every need and attempt to please everyone, however it’s just as dangerous as a tree laden with ice. The weight of attempting to meet everyone’s expectations is not a burden we’re created to bear. It’s too much. Jesus—and Jesus only—is the shepherd of his sheep. He is sufficient in all the ways we are insufficient. By reflecting on the truth of God’s character we’re freed from the lie that we must meet everyone’s needs and expectations.

God Is All-knowing

One of the ways I unnecessarily burden myself in ministry is wrongly believing that I need to know what is happening with the women in my church (or at least know everyone’s name!). However, it’s simply an impossible task to know everyone and everything going on in their lives. The good news? God knows! Psalm 139:1-4 tells us:

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

God knows exactly what is going on in the lives of the women in your church. He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He will help, support, and sustain both you and the women you care about. He knows each woman by name and is so intimately involved that he knows the number of hairs on her head.

Free yourself from the expectation of knowing everything going on with each woman—trust that the Lord knows their story and rest in him.

God Is Everywhere

I believe in the ministry of presence. I know it matters to be with people in both joys and sorrows. But the reality for each of us is that we can only be in one place at a time. We’re limited. To fully be present with one person means I must miss being present with others. However, God is not limited. He is everywhere. Psalm 139:7-10 reminds us:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Not only does God intimately know every woman in your church, he is with them at every moment. Your inability to be physically present may be the very thing that allows a woman to draw near to God in a way she’s never done before.

Rest in the reality that God is with his people. He is the one presence needed at every gathering—you are not!

God Is All-Powerful

One of the most difficult realities of ministry is our powerlessness. There are so many marriage difficulties, health issues, financial problems, and emotional struggles. I so desperately desire to rescue others from their trials. I want just the right words to say to make everything better. But, I don’t have them. Most days I feel powerless. However, God is all-powerful. Psalm 68:35 rejoices:

Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

God is the one who has the power to strengthen his people for whatever they face. God is the one who sustains, encourages, and provides. And he is the one who gets all the glory! While we are powerless to change most things, we are invited to pray to our God who is Lord over all things. He can work in ways we can’t imagine. Our greatest resource is not our abilities, wisdom, or strength, but our prayers that reach the throne room of our all-powerful God.

Rest in him as your pour out your cares and concerns before God in prayer. He hears you, and he is able.

I still struggle at times with my failure to meet other people’s needs and expectations. However, I’ve found the more I reflect upon who God is, the more I can let go of pleasing others. I have one person I’m serving, one master I’m responsible to: God. As Paul wrote, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

As we seek to serve Christ, it may mean that we let others down or fail to meet everyone’s needs. That’s OK. Just like a tree can’t bear the weight of too much ice, we aren’t made to carry the weight of the church on our shoulders. Christ will tend and care for his people in all the ways we cannot. He’s knows all things. He’s everywhere. He’s all powerful. Trust in him as you spend your life loving others.

Author’s note: This article is an excerpt from a free ebook, “10 Truths to Set Leaders Free.” You can download it for free here.