“No! I can do it!” This is my 3-year old daughter’s favorite saying at the moment.

I am trying to help her by doing things for her like brushing her teeth, putting on her shoes, or pouring her a glass of milk. But the second I start helping, she immediately pushes back. “No! I can do it!”

pout

For a while, I was frustrated. Obviously, I can do the job 1000% better than she can. If I let her do it she might spill the milk, get toothpaste in her hair, or take 20 minutes to put her shoes on the right feet. Why doesn’t she understand?

One morning after fighting who would pour her cereal, it suddenly hit me. I cannot keep doing everything for her. Yes, I could do it faster and cleaner, but if I never gave her the chance to try, how will she learn?

Sometimes in life you have to spill the milk, get toothpaste in your hair, and put your shoes on the wrong feet until you learn from your mistakes.

When she said, “No! I can do it!” What she was trying to say was, “Dad, you have to let me learn to do it myself. I want to grow up to be big like you, but I can’t if you don’t give me the chance to learn.” In that moment, I realized that this wasn’t just a parenting issue. It was a leadership issue.

All leaders must follow this principle: You can probably do a better job, but if you don’t let other people do it, you will do it forever.

You aren’t leading anyone if you don’t give them an opportunity to grow. If you do everything everything yourself, you are holding everyone back, including yourself.

That was Moses’ problem. At least until he got some of the best leadership advice in the Bible.

14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” … 21 select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.

– Exodus 18:14, 21

Moses’ father-in-law saw what Moses couldn’t see for himself. Moses had hundreds of capable men standing around waiting for orders, while Moses ran around like crazy doing all the work himself.

Leadership is building up other leaders around you to do the work. Let go of your control. Allow the people you lead to grow, even if it gets messy sometimes. If the people under your watch aren’t growing, you aren’t leading them. You are holding them back.

If you fail to free people to do the work, eventually, they will leave and find some place they can.

What are you doing yourself that you need to allow someone else to do?