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Don’t Wait – Delegate!

John Gilman August 9, 2016

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You’re the pastor, the leader, the manager, or the staff member responsible for it. So, it’s on you. And be honest, even though you’ve got too much on your plate, sometimes it feels good to be the “only” one who can get it done. Or, are you?

Delegation is a hard art to master. The reasons for avoiding it are numerous. Some are legitimate; some, not so much. Just think, do any of these reasons keep you from effectively delegating like you should? Do you ever tell yourself:
•    Nobody else is willing
•    Nobody else will do it right
•    It will be faster if I just do it myself
•    They don’t understand the nuance of how it needs to be done
•    If they do it, I won’t get the credit

If you’ve ever said or thought any of the above, it’s okay. There is hope for you. You just need to realize the importance of delegation and then make a plan to do it well.

Business leaders of all types, for hundreds of years, have understood the power in delegation. Essentially, multiplying your efforts. It was the great steel tycoon and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, who said, “No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” And certainly, he knew a little about building a business and getting credit.

But in the Church it’s different, right? Or, is it? Of course the Church is not a business and profit (or credit) is not our main motivation. But certainly, there are similarities. Let’s take a look at three compelling Biblical examples that support good delegation:
•    God let Moses delegate speaking (and the running of the tabernacle) to Aaron
•    Moses’ Father-in-law, Jethro, encouraged Moses to delegate the judging of the nation
•    Jesus – the one we’re supposed to be following – had “all power and authority” given to him. And yet, he delegated the establishment of his entire church on a few rag-tag people – some, proven failures – in a politically dangerous and troubling time.

Delegation is at the heart of the Church. How else can the Body function if we don’t let all the “parts” do their job? Come on, you’ve read Romans 12. You get the concept. Now it’s time to start doing it better.

By now, I hope you’re starting to feel a little excitement about the prospect of structuring your ministry or area of responsibility to include more people, playing their part. But what now? It’s simple. You need to create a culture of delegation and deference to others in your church. This involves valuing all the members – not just leaders or superstar volunteers – and harnessing their gifts and talents for the Kingdom.

A good approach to delegation should include:

Identifying People
You need to know what you can delegate to whom. You might have a great leader who you can delegate an entire ministry, or even preaching from the stage. You might also have a weak leader with poor interpersonal skills who can rock the lighting board or worship music slides. You could have someone with a ton of passion for kids, but who can’t interact well with parents. And, someone who is great at organizing the kid’s ministry and volunteers, but isn’t one to be in the room with the kids. The key here is, identify the strengths and weaknesses of all the people in your sphere of influence, and see how God might be able to use them in a specific and unique way. Not in the way you would do it.

Not Expecting the World      
Be realistic with your expectations. If you’ve identified people correctly, that helps a lot. You’re not going to expect everyone to do everything when you know they can’t. So, don’t expect them to. Be gracious in recognizing how God has gifted them, burdened them with other obligations outside the church, and called them. Then, set expectations that align with the reality of who they are and what is going on in their lives. Making clear expectations and next steps for leaders and volunteers is greatly improved when you have a system for communication and follow up, that lets you track progress and highlight areas of improvement.

Get to Know Them
If you’re going to be delegating, sometimes you have to be able to speak directly, make corrections, and collaborate on difficult decisions. The stronger your relationship with your leaders, staff, and volunteers, the greater your ability to speak into the quality and quantity of their work. Remember, they won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. You might also consider building team camaraderie by holding weekly or monthly team meetings and by setting up an online community or private group where you can share what’s going on in your lives, ministries, and challenges.

Let it Go
Imagine how many times Jesus winced when he heard or saw his disciples doing something ridiculous, knowing that they would probably still make a ton of mistakes even after he left. But, nonetheless, he let it go. Of course, he’s left us his Holy Spirit who guides and empowers us. But the work, he’s commissioned that to us. In the same way, leaders need to delegate in such a way that their presence is felt, but where freedom is granted. You can’t always be looking over everybody’s shoulder, wringing your hands over their performance. Sometimes people will fail. Sometimes that will look badly on you. But in the long run, you’ll build a culture and a ministry that can go so much further than you ever could make it go by holding onto the reins too tightly.

Communicate Success and Failure
People need to know what success looks like. If you set clear expectations with achievable goals, make sure you celebrate when you reach them. And conversely, when you don’t hit the mark, establish a dispassionate method for providing feedback for improvement. If you submit yourself to the same method, receiving helpful feedback when you’ve missed the mark, it will greatly encourage your team to do the same. And then you can all keep on improving together.

Good delegation requires a healthy embrace of both humility and authority. God has given you authority and responsibility, don’t shy away from it. But don’t exercise it in pride. Instead, use the position God has granted you for this time, to empower others for His glory.

And for one last tip, having a good ChMS that enables communication, next steps tracking, reporting, and group/team management will go a long way in making sure you stay on course as you shape the culture of your church.

If you delegate well, you will do more and your church will reach more than you ever thought possible. Let each member do his / her part!

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