Michael in Culture 10 minutes

The Overdependent Organization

Years ago we went to a small church that met in a boys and girls club in our city. At one point I was leading the music on Sunday mornings, running our new visitor/assimilation program, attending a small group during the week, and leading the youth ministry of 10-20 students. This all happened while I had a full time computer programming job, our first child was born, and we were contributing 10% of my pre-tax income to the church.

I eventually got tired of all of this and decided it was time to move on. Within a month the church ended.

There wasn’t a banner saying, “Michael is leaving this church – we’re shutting down.” In fact the story is much different than that. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if I chose to leave a few years earlier. Would things have lasted so long? I’m inclined to think not.

This experience has caused me to look at dependence on me in a different light. If I am the only reason a project is staying afloat, it’s time to get out. Things that are worth doing don’t depend on one person to do them. They have followers, believers, excited people who will step up and fill in when you move on.

If I leave a project and see that it completely implodes, it’s a sign to me that I was shielding the organization from seeing the truth: that the initiative was fundamentally flawed and I was keeping it afloat. What I’d prefer to see is moving on from something that gets better after I leave. I laid a foundation, and there was a true solution to a true problem that didn’t require my absolute attention. That’s the ultimate goal on anything I do at the moment.