The Single Most Important Distinction a Leader Can Make

I believe that the single most important distinction that a leader can make is between what he is “able to do” and what he “can do." Let me explain. When I use the phrase “able to do”, I’m referring to what a leader has the requisite skills to accomplish. For example, I have the ability to write expository sermons. What’s important to bear in mind is that there is a huge difference between what a leader is “able to do” and what he “can do.” By “can do”, I’m referring not to the ability to accomplish a task (in the sense of having the skills to do something), but rather the physical, emotional and spiritual resources to actually get that task done.

Here’s an example from something I experienced during my pastoral ministry here at Cool Community.

I love preparing sermons for Sunday mornings. It’s something that I’ve been trained for and that I just simply love to do. But, one Sunday, even though I was at church and had my Bible with me, I didn't preach. The reason is that I was not “able to” preach given what I’d been involved in the rest of the week. On the previous Thursday I'd participated in a wedding rehearsal, while on Friday I'd conducted the most difficult emotionally challenging funeral that I’d ever been involved with and on Saturday I conducted a beautiful wedding for a very special couple in our church.

That next Monday, when I looked out on my week ahead, it became clear that I needed to distinguish between what I was able to do and what I could actually do. Which is why I ended up calling a good friend and asking him to preach, so that I  could give myself over to the task at hand of caring for a bereaved family and preparing for two very special services.

The distinction between what you are “able to do and what you can do” is different for everyone depending on your skill set, your circumstances, the time allotted, etc. but it’s a distinction that every leader has to make in order to avoid “burn out” and to make the most out of the resources that God has given you.