In a recent conversation with my friend and mentor, Lance Witt, I was confronted with a truth in my leadership that I already knew, but didn’t want to admit. Ready for it? As a leader, I have limits. I know what you’re saying, “Shocker! Of course, you do!” As leaders, we often see the limits of others much more quickly than we see our own, and I’d rather talk about others’ limits than my own. But here’s the deal, leaders hate to have limitations, and we certainly hate to address our own . While all of us in ministry have limits, we rarely address this truth until it’s too late. If we don’t admit and address our limits, we’ll fail ourselves and the people we’ve been entrusted to lead.
With the recent resignation of Pete Wilson, the senior pastor of Cross Point Nashville, more leaders are talking about limits, but talking about them isn’t enough. In fact, most leaders who talked about Pete’s story addressed his failure to acknowledge his limits, not their personal failure to admit and acknowledge their own limits within the ministry. If we’re going to make it in the long run of ministry, we’ll have to admit our limitations. I’ve already blogged about this in the past, but even Jesus, in all his humanity acknowledged his limits.
Mark 1:35-39 reads:
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Did you see it? The disciples said, “everyone is looking for you” but Jesus’ response was, “Let us go somewhere else.” I don’t think Jesus was rejecting those looking for him, but he was focused on what and who was before him. As leaders, acknowledging our limitations begins with thinking about those who are before and not behind us. What I mean by this is that we have to allow our future self to help determine our current limitations.
We all have limited time, resources and energy, and when we address our limits, it’s best to do so with the perspective of the end in mind. How do we want to be remembered as a parent, spouse, or pastor when we’re gone? If I’m honest, it matters less about how we’re remembered as a pastor or leader. In my opinion, it matters more about what those closest to us will say about how we loved and cared for them.
Since my conversation with Lance, here’s what I’ve been thinking about limits:
- When I don’t acknowledge my limits as a leader, everyone loses.
- Limits are not designed to be pushed but to protect us.
- Limits are daily reminders we can’t do everything for everyone.
- Acknowledging our limitations increases our dependency and sufficiency in Christ.
Limits are for our good and should never be ignored. When we admit and address our limits as leaders. everyone wins. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the limitations of life and ministry. Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.