Your newborn baby needs you. REALLY needs you. They can’t survive without you.
You feed them, you change them, you love them.
And then one day–when the time is right–you refuse to pick up their spoon. They have to guide it into the cereal hole themselves.
You refuse to pick out their clothes. They have to labor over that difficult decision themselves.
But you still love them. And maybe you just demonstrated that.
You have empowered them.
At first, you loved the feeling of being needed by that baby. And they loved needing you. But as they grow up, you have to help them (encourage them? force them?) to do those things on their own.
It’s the same with any form of leadership, whether in the home, the church, or the workplace. As the Person in Charge, you will go through phases:
Phase one: You need to be needed.
There’s nothing more flattering to a new boss than being asked a question you can answer. And you leap to it! Your existence has been justified. You matter. You are needed.
But training is always happening.
So if you give them all the answers to their questions or fix all of their problems, you’ve trained them in some unhealthy habits. They don’t have to think, they just have to ask.
In a reversal of fortunes, you’re doing the work of those who allegedly work for you!
And you also haven’t done them any good.
In the home, this is the 3-year-old who can’t feed himself. Or the 4-year-old who can’t dress herself. Or the 5-year-old who can’t wipe his own bottom. Hey, who wouldn’t want a 24-hour servant? And while you might think this is loving, you’re actually hindering their maturity.
Phase two: You seek to empower.
It’s alright to be needed, but it’s not alright to need it (get that?).
Just because you know the answers doesn’t mean you should always give them.
Just because you can do the job better doesn’t mean you should.
Just because you can feed your child without making a mess doesn’t mean it’s best.
Can you do that? Can you bite your tongue when you know the answer?
Can you offer a gentle nudge in the right direction?
Can you watch someone else do a job in which you are an expert?
If so, then you have embraced the drive to empower others.
Virtually every conversation you have with others will result in one of you feeling more empowered. If you need to be needed, you will attempt to make yourself irreplaceable.
You need to deal with these insecurities.
As we mature, we long to see others built up instead of ourselves. We want to empower others. We seek to become wanted but less needed. We want others to do what we do…and do it even better.
If you’re threatened by that thought, you’re probably stuck in phase one.