That's Not My Job

Not My Job

Two of the most helpful terms in describing church leaders are  Over-Functioning and Under-Functioning.  Over-Functioning as a neurotic state is related to codependency. This was first noted in the study of the family systems that surrounded alcoholics.  The vacuum in family structure and process created by a drinking parent would suck one or more of the children into adult-sized roles. They would take on tasks that were really not their jobs. As they grew into adulthood and left their family of origin, these wounded souls would characteristically over commit. If they were in charge of something in the church, they would do their task in such a way as to make themselves indispensable. Of course, there are other reasons for people to over-function. Once you become aware of the condition, however, it is an easy pattern to spot.


It only takes a few people who are over-functioning to drive out those who function normally. This leads to most people under-functioning in the committee or church. Under-Functioning feels normal when there is someone getting things done without you. Obviously, it is hard to follow a pastor who consistently over-functions. Most clergy, have some degree of codependency. In fact I have sometimes accused the Board of Ordain Ministry of going out and looking for codependents. Every time we move from one church to another, we discover the ways in which our predecessor over-functioned, because those are the committees where we have limited lay leadership or interest in being self-starters.


Fortunately, most of us pastors choose a few areas where we feel especially gifted and over-function in those aspects of church life. We come into conflict with laity who share our same interests. The irony is that the one job that is our job is the equipping of the saints so that they may do their ministry.