Theoretically, we know that delegation is an important part of leadership. But sometimes leaders struggle to actually delegate. Often, there is a sloppy or inconsistent hand off of responsibility.
Delegation is about so much more than a leader offloading responsibilities so he or she can focus on their primary responsibilities. The larger picture is that delegation is necessary to the development of new leaders. Servant leaders train others, and if you are training without delegating responsibility, you aren’t training well.Servant leaders train others. If you are training without delegating responsibility, you aren’t training well. Click To Tweet
I think of this primarily in a local church setting. A significant aspect of my calling as a pastor is to develop new leaders.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)
But if those I am equipping are not allowed the opportunity to share the responsibility of ministry—if they are hindered in exercising a leadership role—their growth is stifled.
Maturity doesn’t come with age; it comes with acceptance of responsibility. The only way emerging leaders will develop leadership skills, including discernment, is if we will place them in decision-making roles. They will make mistakes, which will be (as it was for us) part of their development.The only way emerging leaders will develop leadership skills, including discernment, is if we will place them in decision-making roles. Click To Tweet
Over the years, as I’ve had the opportunity to provide leadership training to pastors, many have asked the same few questions regarding delegation. These are common enough that it’s helpful to think through them:
- What if he doesn’t do as well in that area as I’ve done with it? He may not at first, but give him time and training, and he may exceed your expectations. Turn your anxiety into anticipation for his success and leadership maturing.
- What if the people like the way he leads and organizes better than the way I do it? Praise the Lord! As long as the leader remains faithful to the Word and the philosophy of the ministry, be willing to share the joy of serving.
- What if people reject or get upset with the way he leads? There is no way to serve without getting hurt. When someone who is serving experiences rejection, help him or her walk through it with their eyes on Christ. But at the same time, model before your church a spirit of gratitude for those who serve. Encourage your entire church family to see themselves as participants—not consumers—in the work of the Lord.
Although the questions above are valid, I believe there are two basic reasons that we as leaders struggle to share the responsibility of ministry with other leaders.
The first reason is insecurity, which is directly related to a lack of spiritual growth in the grace of the Lord. If I find my security and my identity in what I do rather than who Christ is, I will struggle to release what I do to others.If I find my security and my identity in what I do rather than who Christ is, I will struggle to release what I do to others. Click To Tweet
Insecurity may also be an indicator that we are seeking an inordinate amount of gratification from people rather than finding our acceptance in the Lord.
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)
As a pastor, I desire to encourage and equip the people in my church. I am encouraged to see them respond to my preaching ministry of God’s Word. But I must remember that I am simply an undershepherd for Christ who is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). My primary responsibility is to serve the flock for His approval.
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:2–4)
As a leader, I must not slough off responsibilities to unequipped people just to get them off my plate. But if I cannot release responsibilities to emerging leaders-in-training as part of their development, it might be an indication that I’m insecure and afraid of losing my identity.
The second major reason leaders struggle to delegate is that they are disorganized themselves. They have no process or strategy that allows for leadership development.Disorganized leaders are rarely good delegators. Without a process or strategy, delegation does not lead to leadership development. Click To Tweet
Because I believe in the importance of delegation and don’t want to fall into patterns of just assigning responsibilities without a way to evaluate results or track growth or progress, I have developed a series of steps I follow when assigning a new responsibility to an emerging leader.
- Mentor and teach before delegating.
- Give clearly identifiable duties for the given task.
- Verbalize confidence in the person to whom you delegate.
- Give authority to get the job done.
- Establish budget limits if applicable.
- Allow room to fail and to learn from mistakes.
- Set predetermined checkpoints for evaluation.
- Praise and give credit for a job well done.
When I was first called to pastor the Lancaster Baptist Church, there were only twelve members. In those early days, I was not only the preacher, but also the Sunday school director, teacher, youth pastor, choir leader, counselor—you get the picture. Today, a team of assistant pastors, a staff of dedicated believers, and hundreds of lay leaders partner together in this work of the ministry. Delegating responsibility has not always been easy for me, but as God has provided our church with godly men and women to lead, sharing ministry responsibilities has proven effective.
For the spiritual leader who is committed to a 2 Timothy 2:2 model of ministry, delegation is non-optional.For the spiritual leader who is committed to a 2 Timothy 2:2 model of ministry, delegation is non-optional. Click To Tweet
Who are you training? Are you systematically giving them opportunities to to assume increasing responsibility?