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The Battle to be Self-Sufficient By Howard Rich

How does a leader overcome the need to be self-sufficient?

Leaders often feel they are supposed to know what to do at all times, have all the answers, cannot have problems, and should be self-sufficient.  Throughout my life, I have battled what I would classify as extreme self-sufficiency, with no small amount of pride welling up as a result of my accomplishments.  I used to believe I demonstrated a winning attitude and was an example of strong leadership when I tackled a huge task alone.  On my life’s journey, I have noticed if a leader is not careful and intentional to guard against it, self-sufficiency often results in isolation, ending in moral and ethical failure.

Every believer experiences loneliness, isolation and failure in his walk with Christ; however, when a leader pretends to know the answer, hides the fact he has problems that take time to solve, and fails to deliver results, it pushes him further into isolation.  If unchecked, the frustration a leader may feel when facing his own short-comings and failures frequently manifests in aloofness, pride, and ownership entitlement.

Pride, arrogance, a sense of entitlement, and a need to control are all traps that can lead to moral impropriety, misuse of finances, integrity compromises, divorce, and verbal or physical abuses, resulting in a leader’s fall.  These are symptoms and results of living in isolation from those who can encourage and help the leader.

God desires for us to live in community, leaning on each other when we are weary and are having trouble taking our next step into the future.  Leaders sometimes bemoan how lonely it can be “at the top,” but God didn’t intend for us to live isolated or to be self-sufficient.  Hebrews 10: 23-25 speaks directly to our need for community, and the wonderful encouragement available to us as believers when we meet together as Christ’s body.  These verses tell us to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,” and how we should be “encouraging one another.”  God is faithful in His promises to us, and He has knit us together as integral parts of His Kingdom.

I encourage you as a leader to invite some wise and God-honoring counsel into your life.  It takes courage for a leader to admit they don’t have all the answers and link arms with others as they enter into a journey where vulnerability is required.  I know I have benefited from laying down my extreme self-sufficiency, and I am sure you will, too.

As a leader, will you become vulnerable enough to step away from the dangerous trap of isolation and the myth that you should be self-sufficient?


Howard Rich is the CFO of Global Disciples.  Howard is a life-long advocate of generous living and desires to see Christians lead from a heart of stewardship and generosity.


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