Preparing for the next big event is a given for leaders. Whether it’s a department meeting, a staff gathering, or a workshop at a conference – something is always right around the corner. Leaders strive for excellence, but striving can lead to over-preparing. And too much preparation can be counterproductive. Let’s find out why.
Years ago I accepted an invitation to help with a women’s retreat. I expected the leader to come to the first meeting with an outline of rough ideas. Instead, she came with a blank tablet. She said, “Since God knows best how this retreat should flow, let’s start by asking Him.” I was quietly aghast. Oh my word, I thought to myself. She did absolutely no planning for this retreat. What kind of leader would come to a meeting totally unprepared?!
A good leader, it turned out. She led us to pray about the various facets of the retreat, and she took notes as we prayed. It was the most effortless planning I’d ever experienced. When the retreat took place, it was filled with God’s leading, ease, and in-the-moment ministry to the women.
Fast forward to a recent gathering where I was asked to share on a particular topic. The meeting was already in process and there was no time to prepare. I panicked a bit as I tried to think of a few wise, wonderful things to say. Nothing. I got nothing.
Then I quickly asked God what I should say, and He led me to invite each person to discern God’s perspective on the topic. Nearly everyone had something to share. There was a broad spectrum of insight – far greater than what I could’ve come up with on my own.
1. It’s burdensome. When you carry the weight of the event apart from others’ input or prayer, and apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading – you’re bearing a burden you were never meant to.
2. It’s a time-stealer. The world won’t rise or fall on this particular assignment, and you don’t want to short-change your other responsibilities. Pace yourself and trust God to fill in any gaps.
3. It stifles valuable input. When you do the lion’s share of prep in advance, you’ll tend to dominate planning meetings and squelch others’ insights. The fullness of God’s wisdom can’t come forth.
4. It produces too much content. Invariably, too much preparation leads to too much material. So when you’re sharing, you rush to fit it all in. This can be stressful for your audience. They need time to breathe, interact, and digest the information.
5. It crowds out the Holy Spirit. Crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” can squeeze the Holy Spirit right out of the process. Preparing moderately allows the Holy Spirit to have His say throughout your presentation or event.
Call it striving for excellence, call it overachieving, or call it aiming to impress – over-preparation is often a recipe for stress for you and the people around you.
As I planned three sessions for a women’s retreat recently, I sensed this soft admonition from the Lord, “Don’t over-prepare. Some of the content will come through My Spirit in the moment. Less allows for more.” Preparing in moderation gives Christ and the body of believers a place at the table for a more bountiful feast.
“Preparing in moderation gives Christ and the body of believers a place at the table for a more bountiful feast.”- Lisa Hosler
How do you resist the temptation to over-prepare? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.