Jesus launches into a scathing rebuke of the religious leaders around Him at the dinner table of a local Pharisee (see Luke 11:37-52). This passage begins a list of seven failures that these leaders experienced. The following continues the list of six failures that are prefaced with a dire warning, “Woe to you…”
Here’s #5 – “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” v 46 (NIV 1984)
These leaders had been consumed with adding to the daily burdens of those they lead, while all the time not seeking to help in any way. Life is hard enough, but when leaders add to the weight of our already full ‘wagons,’ especially without volunteering to help, those pulling can begin to feel cynical and feel like giving up.
Paul was concerned about burdening those whom he led. In 1 Thessalonians 2:9 we read, “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (NIV 1984) Paul was concerned about becoming a financial burden to those he loved and ministered to, therefore, he chose to work night and day (probably making and selling tents) so as to not add to their already heavy load. He modeled sacrificial leadership.
Kingdom leaders can inadvertently become burdensome to those we lead by asking those under our care to ‘just do this one little thing more.’ But one little thing here and then another there, and suddenly these ‘little things’ become big over time, often without realizing it. Just another little policy, another little meeting, another expectation all add up. Every one of the little things have good reasons and good intentions, but without stopping to assess the overall impact, the burden becomes too much. People grow tired and stop or ignore the next ‘little thing’ that gets added to their overflowing wagons.
Wise, sensitive leaders will periodically assess the ‘load’ they are asking those they lead to pull. They will gather feedback on how leadership can lighten the burden. They will volunteer to help pull the weight. The result is increased morale and esprit de corps.
Be a blessing, not a burden to those you lead!