Skip to content

Because Way Too Many Leaders Are Tired of Doing Everything Themselves

Tired of doing everything yourself?

Most leaders are. And yet we feel we have to do it or it won’t get done right, or maybe it won’t get done at all. I’ve been there. I get it.

But the question is why? Why do so many leaders end up there?

Even worse, the vast majority of church leaders and even business owners never figure out how to solve that problem (and it IS solvable).

It’s one of the key reasons 85% of all churches never break the 200 attendance mark, and one of the main reasons most businesses stay small—despite the hopes and dreams of leaders.

What’s really troubling in the church world is that you’ll never reach the people you could reach if you don’t figure out how to solve that problem. People literally go unreached because church leaders feel they need to do everything themselves.

I know as our church grew from a handful of people to over 1200 today, one of the hardest journeys for me as a leader was learning how to let go.

But here’s the truth: if you won’t let go as a leader, your church will never grow.

5 Reasons Leaders Don’t Let Go

My reasons for not letting go are probably similar to yours.

  • I felt responsible for everything that happened in the church
  • I didn’t want to let people down.
  • Our small congregation expected me to do everything.
  • Seminary trained me to do everything.
  • And—honestly—sometimes I arrogantly thought I could do things better.

The truth is you’ll never sustainably grow past 200 attenders if you insist on doing everything yourself.

And if you keep trying to do it as your church grows, it will probably break you. You’ll quit, burn out, or break down. It’s just too much for one person.

Which is why even most growing churches stay small. They hit a lid and can’t get past it.

What’s true of churches is true of teams, departments, and ministries. It’s why sometimes you have a small student ministry in a larger church, or why the preschool won’t grow even when other ministry areas are.

If you’re the leader, you’re the lid. Plain and simple.

So how do you stop doing everything? How do you get out of that style of leadership?

5 Keys To Letting Go So You Can Grow

I learned how to let go the hard way, but I’m really hoping you don’t have to.

My new course, “Breaking 200 Without Breaking You” is  all about the skills and strategies you and your team need to reach over 200 people at your church, something 85% of all churches never figure out how to do. The first 500 churches going through the course are also discovering the principles apply until you grow to 500 people or even more. Scaling is hard, but so worth it.

You can join the learn more about it here.

I want to share a lesson with you I teach in the Breaking 200 course.

It’s the five progressions I made as a leader and the five progressions you’ll need to make as you let go.

In the course, I even show your team how to make this happen because, as you read this, you’ll imagine the resistance you’ll get to these ideas. The good news is you can take your team along for this journey, and they’ll be thankful you did.

I go into more detail in the course, but here’s the transition you need to make if you want your church or ministry to grow.

1. Stop Leading Everything

When you’re leading something, especially when it’s going well, it’s difficult to look around and take notice of the others who could lead.

When you encourage and release them to lead, they get to use their gifts and you see growth.

It’s the difference between leading the Bible study yourself in your home and reaching a dozen people or sending those people out to lead in their homes so that, together, you have dozens of leaders leading hundreds of people.

The first step is simply this: stop leading every ministry your church offers. Move others into places of leadership.

If you lead everything yourself, you’ll never lead much.

2. Stop Controlling Everything

Leading is one thing; controlling is another.

Many leaders struggle with controlling tendencies. The reality is, you’re going to limit your reach if you have to have input on every decision and detail.

Even if you’re not leading everything, your desire to control things will limit the scope and effectiveness of your ministry.

Having a clear mission, vision and strategy will help you feel you don’t need to jump in all the time, and it will help your leaders know exactly what they’re released to do. That’s the power of clarity and an aligned team.

Poor leaders substitute control for clarity.

3. Stop Initiating Everything

As you begin to release the need to lead and control every aspect of your ministry, you may still be tempted to hold on to the desire to initiate everything.

The problem is that initiating everything in your organization assumes you have all the best ideas. Which you don’t.

When you gather smart and passionate people, they’ll have great ideas. Harness those ideas in service of your mission and let them lead.

4. Stop Attending Everything

This shift is perhaps the hardest one to make. At least it was hard for me.

I didn’t make this shift until we were around three or four hundred in attendance.

I should have made it sooner.

It’s a defining moment for the church when the pastor no longer attends every event the church holds.

It’s also a sign that the church is finally embracing a mission bigger than one person.

But it’s a hard transition to make. The first time I didn’t go to an event at our church, I stayed at home and felt guilty all night long. It did get easier with practice though.

You’ll need to do this for practical reasons; you will have so much ministry taking place that it will be physically exhausting to attend it all.

Even as the senior leader who is passionate about the mission of the church and who cares deeply about reaching people, you can’t attend everything, because you also have a ministry to your family.

You have a responsibility for self-care. In order to be a healthy leader, you must allow yourself time to rest and to be refueled. You simply cannot do that while working eighty hours a week. It isn’t sustainable.

But more importantly, when you stop attending everything, you release people to be the church.

While this is a tough shift for leaders to make, it can also be a difficult one for congregations.

There will be a season during which people are disappointed when you aren’t the one present at every event or leading every meeting.

Lead them through this season by providing clarity of the vision that’s before you and by releasing them to use the gifts God has given them.

5. Stop Knowing Everything

As your church grows, you will also need to stop knowing everything that’s going on at your church.

While the senior leader is ultimately responsible for everything in the organization, you simply can’t know every little detail. In all honesty, you shouldn’t even try.

When God is doing so many amazing things, one person shouldn’t be able to keep track of it all.

There are wonderful people at work in your organization doing incredible things. If you release them to do what they do best, you will get phenomenal results. Stay on top of the big issues, and you’ll be leading well.

As you become more comfortable releasing ministry, your ministry will grow beyond your personal reach. And that is how you will see your ministry fully realized.

As a leader once told me, if you need to know, you won’t grow.

Some Help With Reaching More People


pastoral emergencies

If you want to break through the growth lids in your church, don’t miss out on the Breaking 200 Without Breaking You course designed to help you and your team.

What About You?

What are some challenges you face when it comes to doing everything yourself?

What’s helped you? Scroll down and leave a comment!


  1. Tim on November 22, 2017 at 12:13 am

    What about when you wish people would start initiating. It’s so frustrating I’ve had way too many instances where I’ve waited and waited and waited for even people who are key leaders to initiate good ideas and they don’t. Then when I don’t it feels like we miss so many opportunities.

  2. Ray on September 14, 2017 at 7:29 am

    You pinned me to the wall Carey. Thanks for the fresh inside angle and transparency.

  3. Josh on September 13, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    my favourite post yet

  4. Jeremy Martin on September 13, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Before planting our church I came across man organizational system that has been life giving and a huge factor in early health and success. The number one thing it does is distribute authority in work and provides clarity to those doing that work. I don’t do everything. And we are better for it. So necessary. Great post!

  5. Chuck on September 13, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    One small corollary that may or may not fall under one of these five (which are awesome, btw). When you are immersed more in a “get” culture than a “give” culture, you find large swaths of people that want to attend, but not serve. It’s not a matter of not doing it right. It’s a matter of people wanting this or that outreach, this or that ministry, or this or that program, but not willing to pull their weight in making it happen. Two words: Children’s Ministry. This is a CLASSIC example (though not the only one…) of where this phenomenon happens ALOT, and it would take some serious dishonesty or naivete to deny it. That said, when there is a large need, and few people to meet it (and meet it well), you’re in a quandary. A very big quandary. Thoughts on this one, sir?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.