Have you ever been like this? I have. It’s something I struggle with but am determined to change. For me, sometimes it’s pride that fuels this wrong attitude, “I can do it and don’t need help” or “they may mess it up.” Sometimes it’s fear, and I feel, “they are too busy to help me or they don’t care.” Sometimes this wrong attitude is based on a lie. “I have to meet everybody’s needs.”
I’m not alone and see that many people struggle with trying to meet everybody’s needs. It’s a messiah complex that says “I have to be there for everybody. I have to help all my relatives. I know my son is 45 years old but I have to keep paying his rent. My baby needs me. I have to help everybody at work. They need me! Those people at work won’t make without me. I have to help everybody in my neighborhood. All 100 of my friends need me! They can’t survive without me.”
People who live this lie, live under constant stress and pressure. I know, because in the early days of our church, I lived this lie. As a pastor, I felt like I had to meet everybody’s needs. A lot of pastors struggle with this. There’s this pressure of, “I have to counsel and teach everybody, help everybody, visit everybody in the hospital, marry everybody, meet everybody’s needs.” I learned that living this lie is unrealistic and unhealthy.
Let me show you a man in the bible who tried to do everything himself:
Exodus 18:13-18 “The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. (NIV)
Jethro told Moses that trying to meet everybody’s needs isn’t good! Having the superman or superwoman complex isn’t good! You can meet some needs but you can’t meet every need. You ought to help some people but you can’t help all people! You’re not God!
It’s not good because you’re wearing yourself out.
It’s not good because you’re living a stressed out life trying to meet everybody’s needs.
You’re frustrating people because you’re over promising and under delivering. You’re over committing yourself.
You’re robbing other people from being used by God
This passage of scripture epitomizes for me the fact that, “One person cannot do it all.” Even in trying to do it all Moses as well as the people were wearing themselves out.
When Moses led the people of God out of Egypt there were at least 600,000 men with their wives and children (Exodus 12:37). And all day long, every day for several weeks, he’s been in the desert with these people and he has constantly been judging their many conflicts and disputes.
It’s obvious that it’s tiring Moses out. He’s been doing this from early morning until late nite for several weeks now. Jethro can see the fatigue in Moses’ eyes and he sees how haggard Moses appears each day.
Moses is also neglecting his family. He had already sent them to Jethro in Exodus 18:2. Now Jethro was bringing them back to camp Exodus 18:5-6. There would be no time for his family if he continued in the way he was operating.
And it’s obvious that the people aren’t real happy with this arrangement either. It’s wearing them out as well too.
Have you ever stood in a long line at the Grocery store or at the Post Office? Have you ever gotten impatient if you had to wait more than a few minutes?
Imagine what it would be like if you had to wait in line for HOURS to get service! Out there in the desert there’s over a million people and only one line to stand in.
You can get the idea of what this must have been like for the average Israelite.
So Jethro watches what’s going on and he realizes his son-in-law needs some advice. So he makes a suggestion. He says: “Moses, you need help.”
“Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people— men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain— and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.”
In other words: don’t quit doing what you’re doing… just learn to share it with others.
God never designed us to work alone.
Do you remember back in Genesis – when God created man? Do you remember the reason He gave for creating Eve? He said “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
It’s an abiding principle in Scripture that when we work for God – we need to work with others.
That’s part of the reason Jesus didn’t do His ministry alone. He selected 12 men to work alongside of Him. And then – when he sent them out to do their work – do you remember how he sent them out? “He sent them out two by two” (Mark 6:7 & Luke 10:1)
Because trying to work for God all by yourself can wear you out.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
In science it’s called the principle of Synergism.
Synergism basically boils down to this idea: Two can carry more than one.
I once read the story is told of a horse pulling contest in Canada.
The winning horse in the contest pulled 9000 pounds
The runner up pulled 8000.
Together you’d expect them to pull 17,000 lbs., but not so! When teamed together, they pulled 30,000 lbs. – nearly twice as much!
That’s part of the reason Jesus created the church.
There are people who will try to tell you that they can be just as good a Christian without going to church, but that’s just not so. They are deceiving themselves and deliberately ignoring the fact that part of the reason Jesus went to the Cross was to establish His church. And one of the reasons He established the church was so that we could do more together than we could individually.
Congregations are filled with imperfect people but when these imperfect people allow themselves to be guided by God’s word, they end up “pulling together” and find they can accomplish a great deal for God.
That was true for Moses in the wilderness, and that’s true for you at home, at work, and for the church in our day.
During World War II, a church building in Strasbourg was destroyed. After the bombing, the members surveyed the area to see what damage was done. They were pleased that a statue of Christ with outstretched hands was still standing, because it had been sculpted centuries before by a great artist.
Taking a closer look however, the people discovered both hands of Christ had been sheared off by a falling beam. It seemed like a great tragedy at the time.
Sometime later, a sculptor in the town offered to replace the broken hands as a gift to the church, but the church leaders refused. They realized the damage done to Christ actually symbolized a powerful teaching from Scripture. They were called to serve God with all their hearts, but if they didn’t do their part, Christ had no hands. They realized they were the hands of Christ! The statue had taught them that the work of Christ had been given to them.
God designed us to be able to work. But He didn’t intend for us to do His work all by ourselves. We must include others. He designed the church to pull together to accomplish more together than anyone could do alone.