I often hear about businesses losing great employees, or non-profits and churches losing good employees and great volunteers to other ventures. Some blame “burnout” or micro-management, but I see something different.

I think there is a tendency to USE people instead of UTILIZE people.

We USE people:
• to fulfill our vision
• accomplish our delegated tasks
• to do things we do not want to do

This doesn’t have to be done maliciously. That’s the trap of leadership. These things come automatically and often times subconsciously. “Just get So and So to do it…” is what we say, without regard to whether or not So and So wants to do it, or is even good at it. The So and So’s of the world are usually willing and competent…and the most susceptible to burnout.

What takes a bit more time on the front end, but saves so much heartache on the back end is utilizing people. Discovering their strengths, their weaknesses, their passions, and their fears. In a sense its a way of coaching or discipleship. Utilizing may look similar to using people, but the results are drastically different.

We Utilize people:
• to fulfill their vision
• to maximize their strengths
• when we fill in for their weaknesses

I look back at the Scriptures to the biographies of the Apostle Paul and John Mark. Mark was immature, full of zeal, and frustrated the older Paul when Paul took a chance on him. It got to the point where Paul and his ride or die, Barnabas, split up because Paul was so frustrated with the kid. Paul went with Silas, while Barnabas took John Mark under his wing, and lifted him up (much in the way Barnabas took Paul under his wing and lifted him up years before). Many years later Paul and John Mark reconciled. But I can’t help but think what would have happened if Paul had taken Barnabas’ posture on the front end.

What are you doing to Utilize people rather than Use people that have been entrusted to your care?