Delegation is a risky business, but burnout is an even riskier. When I first started in ministry, delegation was a great way to get rid of all the stuff I did not want to do. Of course, some of that stuff was stuff I needed to do and some of it was stuff no one wanted to do. Nevertheless, I soon realized that when I delegated to another I was still held responsible for the actions of another. For example, if I delegated the responsibility of planning a lock-in to a group of college students with little oversight, then I could usually count on a long deacons meeting in the week to come. I learned that I was held responsible for the actions of those whom I delegated responsibility. My knee jerk reaction to this poor delegation was a season of doing everything myself. I did not trust anyone to do the work of the ministry. I stopped equipping others and started piling on the work. After all, I thought, I am the only one I trust with real responsibility. I remained on this course for quite some time until I began to buckle under the pressure of a growing family ministry. Burnout was around the corner and delegation again whispered my name. I shared my dilemma with a fellow pastor friend and he gave me some helpful tips on delegating responsibly.
I concluded that their was a difference between delegating irresponsibly and delegating responsibly. The former was a high risk business yielding an unpredictable and damaging product and the latter was low risk and produced great fruit. The ultimate end for the non-delegator is a life filled with mounting stress, pride, and eventual burnout.
Here are some helpful tips for delegating.
- Consider YOUR Contribution. (There are some things only you can and should uniquely do…like being the primary communicator in your ministry.
- Know Your Role. (Be familiar with the role of a pastor/church leader in the context of how your church really works)
- Pray for Leaders. (Spend time asking God to open your eyes to potential leaders in your church.)
- Know your Team. (Take time to get to know the spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personalities, and experiences of your leadership team)
- Delegate Rightly. (Ask the Right person–based on who they are, to do the Right job–based on their skill set, at the Right Time–when they are ready)
- Delegate Responsibly. (Be clear about expectations and tasks–write them down)
- Follow Up Frequently. (Inspect what you Expect)
Just remember, when you delegate, delegate responsibly.