Occupational Hazard of Over-Statement

During my class last week we had a great conversation around the topic of "over-statements" leaders tend to make. You know the over-statements: pastors over-state how effective their programs are, or how many people come to their church. Other organizations over-state how many people they reach or how many products they sold last year. Over-statements are dishonest, but awfully typical. And there aren't many leaders other than Jesus who are innocent of falling to this temptation.

Why is it that even leaders with extraordinary character have a tendency to over-state information, even when it doesn't need to be over-stated in the first place?

One of the guys in our discussion suggested that as organizations grow, leaders develop groupies who reward them for over-statement. Those groupies thrive on their connection to the leader; the more successful he (or she) is, the more a groupie thrives on the connection. So, the leader gets lots of opportunities to practice over-statements to the point that he begins to believe they are true. The more often the tape of a lie plays itself across our lips, the more likely we are to begin to believe the lie, and the more likely we are to tell the lie again. It becomes comfortable, and we begin to believe it.

It's a vicious cycle.

I tend to think my friend's logic is true. If so, it's just another reminder: you lie to yourself long before you lie to anyone else. And sometimes, if you aren't careful, those you'll get good enough that you even fool yourself.