Leader’s Debt


Luke 5:16 Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.

I was recently asked to speak at an event in another city.  I was the primary speaker and would be addressing a crowd of 75 not-for-profit leaders.  I also knew they would be giving me a small check at the event’s conclusion. People were coming and they were expecting.  I wanted to do a good job. Wouldn’t you?
Be careful.

It’s easy for leaders to slip into the deception of “leader’s debt;” One person’s expectation translated to another as something due. From marriage to parenting, from work life to ministry, it’s easy for us to absorb another’s expectations and then feel an unhealthy demand to perform.

Consider Jesus.  Peter had “left everything” to follow Him.  Matthew “left everything” to follow Him.  And the crowds who were sick came in faith believing He would heal them.

And in the middle of all the human expectation as a healer, a teacher, a leader, “He often withdrew to deserted places to pray.”

I wonder how many came to see Him and went away empty handed because He was praying in hiding. I wonder if ever those who “left everything” to follow Him began wondering if they should have kept something. When Jesus went away to pray, He surely seemed disconnected from their personal hopes and their expectations of Him to be there in their time of need.

Didn’t He owe them something?

Only love. Romans 13:8 liberates us from human performance driven by man’s expectation: “Owe no man any thing, but love.”

Even in the basic contract between an employer and employee in which there are clear expectations of performance, love is what is more due. It may seem odd to love your employer, but does God think it strange? And won’t love for your employer cause you to exceed human expectations of performance?

Performance obliges.  Love sacrifices.

Performance accomplishes. Love exceeds.

Performance exhausts. Love renews.

If you want to do more than perform, love. Jesus did. He was driven by God rather than man to do that which was most important – pray – rather than falling into the human expectation trap of “leader’s debt.”



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