Overprotection is never an act of love. It is the by-product of fear. Parents can overprotect a child to the point the child is unprepared to engage the real world when they leave home. A pastor can overprotect those under their care calling it love when in reality it is a form of control motivated by the fear of losing people. A businessperson can overprotect the first generation of their product to the point it begins to lose market share because the product and an understanding of a client base were not allowed to evolve. We can overprotect something or someone to the point where death, not life takes place – the death of a relationship, promised potential, or the environment of trust.
Learning how to lead means learning how and when to let go. Parents will hopefully come to realize keeping their kids isolated and unable to process uncomfortable topics and relationships weakens the child’s emotional and spiritual immune system. Pastors, as they mature in their leadership abilities, will hopefully come to realize faithfully shepherding people involves allowing them to exercise their will with freedom even to the point of disagreement if the congregation is to remain healthy and spiritually alive. A business owner will hopefully come to realize they may have launched the innovative idea for the first generation of a product, but those who have been added to the team since the initial launch may now be the ones who possess the input required to keep the business alive, growing and viable as the product and its customers step into the future.
Perfect love casts out fear. It casts out our overprotective ways of living and leading that stumble those under our care and keep them from reaching their full potential. Externally, we can try to make our fears sound like parental love, pastoral care, or strong corporate leadership, but at the core of our being unresolved fear is the loudest voice informing our decision-making process. Lockstep looks good in parades and marching bands, but it doesn’t work in real life.