Apple employees coined the term “reality distortion field” to describe Steve Jobs’s ability to twist any fact to fit his own purpose. “At the root of the reality distortion was Jobs’s belief that the rules didn’t apply to him,” Walter Isaacson wrote in his biography. “He had some evidence for this; in his childhood, he had often been able to bend reality to his desires. Rebelliousness and willfulness were ingrained in his character. He had the sense that he was special, a chosen one, an enlightened one.”
Not to throw shade on Steve Jobs—the world pretty much agrees with his self-assessment. In the world of technology, Jobs was special and enlightened. But his self-appraisal made it difficult for him to value others. After all, when you’re the reality-bending superstar on the field, it’s hard to see your need for the rest of the team.
That’s why, whether you’re a pastor, elder or church planter, this is so important: The more gifted the individual, the more essential the plurality.
Talent Needs Team
Talented lead pastors risk their own reality distortion field. Except in their case, it can undermine the beauty and church vitality that accompanies genuine plurality. And the reality distortion they embrace is the same one that has toppled some incredibly capable church leaders in the past few years: the more gifted the leader, the less necessary the plurality.
Let’s not oversimplify this or reflexively assume men with greater gifts are just more arrogant. It’s more nuanced and diagnostically complex. Interdependence and collaboration emerge when a leader soberly realizes his limits and begins to sense that the wisdom and ideas necessary for guiding a church are beyond his capacity as a leader. In this case, sharing ministry with others becomes desirable, natural, necessary, fruitful, and even a relief. The wisdom of many seems to decisively outweigh one man’s genius.