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Church Staffing Suggestions: Delegation Fears

Pastor Daniel Brown discusses the roadblocks and complexities that keep church leaders from inviting others alongside to help shoulder the burdens of ministry.

Jethro’s advice for how Moses ought to delegate ministry to others contains a simple, but often overlooked detail.

Why is it so difficult for pastors to delegate significant work and ministry to the people in their churches? There are several basic reasons, and it is often a combination that gives rise to the reluctance to entrust programs and responsibilities to others:

  • Pastors sincerely want to serve the people in their churches, and that servant heartedness sometimes forgets that giving others opportunity to serve is one of the most loving things a leader can do. Jesus explained that the pathway to significance is through the servants’ quarters. Pastors who do not want to “bother” others and ask for their help are unintentionally barring the doors to those rooms.
  • Pastors are sometimes worried that the delegated task will not get “done right,” which is to say, exactly like the pastor would have done it. Perhaps because of faulty notions of “authority,” on every subject and type of activity from decorating to worship to retreat-planning to budgeting to graphic design, etc. Aren’t we glad God does not espouse, “If you want something done right, do it yourself”?
  • Many pastors confuse delegation with dictation. If a leader spends all the time to think a job through, and spell out how it is to be done, the leader has already missed the point of delegation. Jethro’s advice for how Moses ought to delegate ministry to others contains a simple, but often overlooked detail: let others be the front line; let them be the first to deal with situations, and whatever they decide they cannot handle should be brought to Moses-not the other way around.
  • Pastors have been ‘burned’ by previous experiences with delegation, and they are not eager to be disappointed all over again. It only takes a few dropped balls by volunteers to condition pastors not to trust the quality of quantity of others’ work. Actually, most of the disappointments in delegation happen because leaders: miscast people in unsuitable jobs; fail to give enough information or support; choose not to deal with preexisting attitude problems; or, unintentionally prevent people from really taking ownership of the job.

Image: Markus Spiske

  • Pastors fall into the whirlpool of being too busy to look for, disciple and enlist more workers. Since it takes longer (initially) to adequately delegate than it does to do a job themselves, pastors, who are already crunched for time because of all the things they are doing themselves—because it is quicker, have a hard time justifying the “lost time” that delegation and follow-up require. Eventually, the church ends up only able to produce what one extremely busy leader can accomplish.
  • Pastors can fear losing importance if many other people start doing lots of great things. Pride urges leaders to keep the credit (thereby the work) for themselves; the truth is that unless they have a pride problem themselves, people will respect a leader who delegates significant responsibility far more than they will regard a leader who does not.



Used with permission of the author.

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Category: Fall 2019, Ministry

About the Author: Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but he is best-known for the sorts of resources that help local church leaders excel in their spiritual assignment. For more about Daniel Brown, see his ministry resources website: CTW. Facebook. Twitter.

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