Margaret Marcuson: If you feel resentful, you are probably overfunctioning

Do you feel resentful? You are probably taking more responsibility than you need to, and overfunctioning for some person or group--or even for the whole church.

Overfunctioning is in reciprocal relationship with underfunctioning. Some people take too much responsibility, others take too little. If you are reading this article, I can make a fair guess about which part you play in this balancing act: You’re probably an overfunctioner.

I still have to pay attention to this myself. My first response is to take responsibility. However, the resentment itself is an early (or late…) warning signal that I’ve said yes to too much--or stepped in and assumed responsibility without being asked. I’ve learned to notice it and reconsider what I’m doing. I can’t always see it in advance, but I can recover more quickly now.

What to do? Processing your resentment with underfunctioners is not the place to start. Underfunctioners don’t step up until overfunctioners change their own functioning and step it down at least a little. The balance of responsibility doesn’t change because you have a conversation, but because 
you change.


  • Are you really required to do everything you are doing?
  • Is all this yours to do?
  • If so, do you have to do it now?
  • Do you want to do it? How do you really want to be spending your time right now?

Start with your own clarity about your own principles, what you want, and what you will and won’t do. Focusing on that clarity is something you can do at any time, even for a few minutes. Being clear about what is most important to you now is a more powerful and energized place to stand than a generalized feeling of overwhelm and resentment. You can say to yourself and to others, "Here’s what I want to focus on right now."


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