I recognize that I have been an overfunctioner for most of my life. An overfunctioner is someone who takes increasing amounts of responsibility for the functioning of one or more other people. Unfortunately living this way led me to a time of burnout.
Many of us, especially those of us who are in a profession that involves caring for people, want to be sensitive to those times when others are in genuine need so we can respond. Of course this is a wonderful thing to do but it is not always the best and most appropriate thing to do.
Why? Because it is actually uncaring and inappropriate to function consistently for others when they can manage for themselves even if they want us to function for them and tell us we are “uncaring” if we don’t.
I have been an overfunctioner
This has been me for a long time. My relational style of leadership has led me to be an overfunctioner in a lot in people’s lives.
For many years I falsely believed that it was my responsibility as a pastor to “make people feel better” when they were having a personal difficulty.
The truth is though, my responsibility is to just be there and to express a sense of connection that I have with the person who is hurting.
It is not my job to take responsibility for other people’s feelings – it is only my job to show my concern and connection with them in the midst of their unhappiness.
I am learning not to be an overfunctioner
During the last number of years I have been learning to develop a new way of relating to and caring for people who have difficulties. I am working on not taking on other people’s jobs which they could do themselves (this one is still difficult for me).
I am learning to be less concerned about things others are responsible for that are not done “perfectly” or according to my standards (this does not mean that I don’t hold them accountable but it means that I allow them to use their God-given SHAPE).
I have also began to remove faulty expectations of myself.
I know that I still have a lot of growing to do but I also know that I have grown a lot in this area over the last number of years.
How about you? Are you a overfunctioner? How has this affected your life?