By Jennifer Davis Rash
Executive Editor, The Alabama Baptist
Sure, the only connection our news staff had with him was business-related. We didn’t know his family. We didn’t spend time with him outside of office hours. And we didn’t know him prior to forming the business partnership.
But we considered him a friend, someone true to his word and as committed to us as we were to him and his company. We even explained how we selected his business because of the personal touch he provided. A lot of businesses could deliver the product, but none was interested in working with us as if it was an extension of our staff.
So when our friend stopped returning our calls, failed to communicate important information and basically became nonexistent to us after a few years, it hurt. We were frustrated and disappointed. The company no longer gave us the confidence it did before and we felt abandoned.
There were lots of elements to the situation, and everything has since worked itself out, but it wasn’t until I could see all the layers that I realized our friend had not actually abandoned us. He had just overcommitted for so long that it finally caught up with him.
The company did and does deliver good work, but its success at rising above the crowd in the beginning came from our friend’s personality. He attracted new business and gave new clients a personal advocate they could trust beyond signing a contract. He truly was a friend, and I believe he was sincere in what he claimed he would deliver.
The problem was there was only one of him. As long as the company was small, he could juggle his pool of client-friends but the company grew. He delivered more and more new clients — all expecting the same level of attention and service. No one else in the company was required or desired to deliver this extra service, so he was alone in caring for all his clients at the level he had promised.
Once I realized what had happened, I could relate. I’ve found myself in similar situations with organizations in my community and new ministries at my church. If I see a need, then I want to fill it, and many times, I have found myself overcommitted. While I’m sincere in wanting to offer a personal touch that takes the responsibility level beyond what anyone ever anticipates, it always seems to move from a bonus to an expectation. And as the volume of needs increases, the less I can deliver the extra elements that were promised early on in the process.
I’ve watched others in these situations just walk away, leaving everyone else to pick up the pieces and regroup. But I can’t do that. I feel an obligation to finish what I start, and if I’ve told you I’ll do something, then I’ll do it — no matter what it costs me.
Several people in my life continuously caution me about overcommitting, but it was one of my former ministers who finally made it click with me. He reminded me to be careful to pursue only those things God directs and not deplete my energy on self-motivated projects and ministries, no matter how good they might be.
It seems simple. The concept certainly is not foreign to me and is so much a part of my life. But at the same time, I struggle with turning down the good projects that might not be what’s actually best for me to do. I always think I can do them all.
Being on the other side this time made me realize that not only does forcing something like this cause stress, guilt and frustration but it also prevents someone else from experiencing the blessing of serving in that role because I am in the way.