Producing or Pretending?

I recently heard a thought-provoking message from one of my pastors, Miles Welch. He unpacked an important relational principle from Galatians 6, one that deals with burdens and loads.

Miles illustrated how getting this principle wrong can negatively impact us, our family relationships, our friendships and our workplace. Today I want to look at the way this principle of burdens and loads applies to teams.

In the first few verses of Galatians 6 we read: “Carry each other’s burdens” and “Each one should carry their own load.”

At first glance, these two thoughts seem incompatible. The key, though, is realizing that burdens and loads are not the same. When we treat them as equal, or when we confuse one with the other, relational breakdowns happen. Those breakdowns occur when we:

  • Avoid coming alongside others to help them carry their burdens.
  • Refuse to carry our own load.
  • Enable others by carrying the load that belongs to them.
  • Refuse to make our burdens known to others.

Burdens vs. Loads

When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he used shipping terms to define loads and burdens.

When a vessel is packed to its full capacity, that’s a load. A load is not 50% capacity. It’s not 75% capacity. It’s 100% capacity.

Transporting a load isn’t necessarily easy. There are seasons when a vessel’s load will feel heavy.

However, when a vessel carries more than 100% of its capacity, the added weight becomes a burden, and the vessel may begin to sink unless that burden is lifted.

All of us have been entrusted with a load. Everyone’s load is different and may seem heavier or lighter than the load of someone next to us.

One thing is sure: Whatever load we’ve been given to carry, we’ve also been given the ability and the resources to carry it.

Whatever load we’ve been given to carry, we’ve also been given all we need to carry it.

When we love, we help carry each other’s burdens 

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

All of us will experience seasons when we feel that we’ll drown under the weight of a burden unless someone comes alongside and helps us carry it. Just as our Father daily bears our burdens, we face opportunities to make ourselves available to others by offering time, financial resources or emotional support to help carry their burdens. As Miles put it so well, “We are probably never more like Jesus than when we come alongside someone who's sinking to help carry their burden.”

Being part of a team means making yourself available to help carry your teammates’ burdens.

Clarity of roles and responsibilities will help everyone on the team distinguish between a load and a burden and when it’s appropriate to come alongside to offer help.

When we love, we carry our own load

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” Luke 9:23

Jesus said that in order to become His disciple, we must pick up our daily cross. We can’t grow as His disciples if we put our daily cross on someone else’s shoulders.

The same is true for loads. When everyone on the team carries his/her own load, we will see its fruit: Projects will progress timely. Creativity will be unleashed. Collaboration and trust will flourish. There will be a sense of common purpose, unity and joy!

“When we carry our own load and live up to our responsibilities, it creates maturity, stability and a healthy environment in which the people around us can thrive.” Miles Welch

When we don't carry our own load, the pressure of our load will fall on other people and cause others to bend under that added pressure. Things may still get done. Goals may still be accomplished, but it will happen at a cost. And eventually it will undo teams and relationships.

When we love, we don’t enable others by carrying their load

“When we carry someone else’s load we trade tomorrow’s maturity for today’s harmony.” Miles Welch

As relational creatures with an innate desire to be loved and accepted, we may want to pick up somebody else’s load in order to preserve relational harmony. However, doing so often brings unintended results. When we pick up someone else’s slack, we not only prevent them from maturing and growing, but we cause long-term damage to our organizational effectiveness.

Turning a blind eye and ignoring the principle of loads and burdens renders many leaders ineffective and ultimately prevents businesses and organizations from having the desired influence and impact.

Eli was a priest and a judge in Israel, and Eli’s family line was appointed to minister before the Lord for generations to come. Sadly, Eli chose to turn a blind eye to the fact that his sons refused to carry their assigned load to care for the temple. Eli’s choice to preserve relational harmony over long-term maturity cost him dearly.

“At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.” 1 Samuel 3:12-13, emphasis mine

When we love, we share our burdens with others

Sharing our own burdens with others can be especially difficult to do. It takes maturity and a willingness to be vulnerable. It also takes incredible humility to admit we are in a place of need.

Although it may be easier to pick up someone else’s load than to share our burdens with others, by doing so we open the door for true community and encourage strong relationships to develop and thrive!

When we refuse to share our burdens with others, we run a risk of burning out, and the quality of our work will suffer.

Where are you today?

  • Are you drowning? Speak up! You were not meant to carry your burden alone!
  • Are you doing the bare minimum just to get by, hoping no one will notice? Step up, own your load and watch how it will help you grow and propel your team forward!
  • Are you enabling others by picking up their slack? Practice saying “no.” Give yourself time before agreeing to every request that comes your way. Reject guilt, fear or pride that may be hiding behind every “yes.”

Are you drowning? Speak up! You were not meant to carry your burden alone!

Are you so focused on your work that you ignore those around you? Pray for opportunities to see the needs of those around you and ask for wisdom for the best way to help.  

Education / Inspirational / Lifestyle

Lead Like Jesus is a global leadership development organization that promises a leadership model that transforms you and those you influence. Our proven methodology is based on the model of Jesus, focusing on heart-centered, transformative leadership that equips leaders to effectively impact their own spheres of influence. Lead Like Jesus does not run other ministries, businesses, schools, families, churches or nonprofits, but teaches those who do, so that God is glorified. What makes Lead Like Jesus different? Our framework. We believe skills and knowledge can’t replace character and integrity. Leading like Jesus involves the alignment of our Heart, Head, Hands and Habits. Our definition. We believe leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior or development of another. Our model. We believe Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time, so our leadership philosophy is simple: follow the Leader.