Different Sizes of Plates

Have you ever found yourself comparing your workload with another’s?

It’s natural to do. Someone tells you about the great stress regarding what he or she does and inwardly you are somewhat skeptical of how hard that job actually is. You might have even thought to yourself, “Your job sounds easy – you couldn’t handle what I do!”

We often describe our schedules as having “too much on our plate.” Have you ever doubted that when someone said it? Have you ever wondered why some people seem very stressed with very few responsibilities?

So consider that person who seems overwhelmed at their responsibilities but you inwardly consider their schedule as a manageable job. When he or she begins to speak of the job’s grueling nature, why is that?

A mentor shared with me a realization he came to years ago that might be helpful to you: we all have different sizes of plates.

  • Do you see that person who seems overwhelmed with the bare minimum? It might be because his or her capacity simply is a small plate. Just a little bit of responsibility does feel like a full plate because the dish is simply tiny.
  • Do you see that person who never seems overwhelmed and just keeps piling it on? It might be because his or her capacity is more of a platter than a salad plate. That type of person just seems capable to do more.

Be Honest

Do you feel overwhelmed at what you do? Do you feel like you have the hardest job in the world even though you know it’s not? You might just be wired differently. You might be more comfortable with a more manageable plate size.

Don’t waste time judging plate sizes with someone else. We are all wired differently. Comparison will lead you to further self-loathing and will rarely cause you to acheive more.

Be Careful

While you might be wired to handle a smaller plate, you might still need to carry something larger. Your perspective might be small but what if your job calls for something great?

What if your job calls for more responsibility than what you are able to bear?  What if your comfort is a small plate but your opportunity is a large plate?

You might be more comfortable with a small plate but your job expects you to carry a larger plate. You can’t blame your makeup if they need you to do more.

For the sake of your organization and for the sake of your health, you need to find something else to do.

If you feel comfortable with a salad plate but your job calls for a platter, you are going to have to figure out how to do it despite your weaknesses or allow someone else to do it. There’s no way around it. You have to decide you will figure out what it takes or get out of the way. It’s not good for you or for your organization. It will ruin one or both of you.

God Didn’t Design You to Fail

While I will admit that we are all wired differently, you cannot excuse less than stellar efforts on how God made you. God designed us to be people who work for the glory of God (Col. 3:23) and who are eager to do good works (Titus 2:15). We are to pray that God would establish the work of our hands (Ps. 90:17). If we lack the wisdom to do anything in this life, he promised we can ask for it in faith and receive it (James 1:5). You were made to accomplish good works (Eph. 2:10)!

God did not create you to maintain a stressful existence full of unproductive days.

God wants you to succeed. Your vocation, organization, boss, and co-workers (even though they aren’t perfect) probably do want you to succeed as well – it benefits them! You can accomplish a great deal.

Maybe the job is too much. Maybe they are asking too much of you. That’s a possibility. But another possibility is that you could be hiding behind an excuse.

  • If it’s too much, then say it is too much and start working towards doing something else.
  • If it’s not too much, get in there and figure out how to bring glory to God and good for others by your hard work.

We tend to blame God for our failures and take the credit for our successes.

Instead of blaming God for how you are wired, work with God in light of that wiring. Discover how you are gifted. Determine if you need to make a change or be the change.

You might be wired to handle a smaller plate, but if a larger plate of responsibility has been put before you, figure out what to do with it quickly.