I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy.
(I imagine most of us like to think of ourselves this way…)
Occasionally, in my day-to-day working, I learn something I already knew.
Many people call that “remembering”, but I think learning or re-learning might be more accurate.
And often, the things that are worth remembering are worth re-learning again and again.
Last week I had occasion to do just that. I’d like to share it with you.
In my current ministry, I wear many hats.
There’s a wide range of things I am responsible for.
The great thing about our culture is that very few projects given to an individual require them to be the one to “do” the work.
When assigned a task, more often than not, the role of the leader is to make sure the task is done – who does it is not really an issue.
This is something I had forgotten.
One of my roles is oversee the communications of the church. Printing, design, website, emails, etc. falls under my portfolio.
I’ll let you in on a little secret here: I can be a little “particular” about certain aspects of this role.
One of things I have done is kept control of the printing and cutting of the sermon series postcards. Partially because I enjoy the methodical nature of producing a quality piece and partly (primarily) because I didn’t really trust anyone else to do it right (read “my way.”)
Over the last few weeks, that has been an increase in the amount of design and printing needed for the church.
So much so, that it was beginning to detract from other areas I needed to focus on. Something had to change, I needed note time! How do you create more times? As Bro Jim always says “Use the time of others.” I had to delegate.
Somethings are easy to delegate, but detailed work is hard for me to give up.
I guess I have a low trust level on it.
Although, I have an employee who is perfectly suited for this type of work.
But I couldn’t just dump it on her. I had the teach her the process and create a few new tools to make sure that the projects would be done that way I wanted them to be accomplished.
In doing so, I learned (re-learned/remembered) why many leaders fail to delegate. Some of these were true for me and I imagine they are for you as well.
1. You only delegate when you have to.
Really, delegations should come way before the “I’ve got too much to do, so I need help!” But like Maxwell says, “People change when the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of the change…” Think out further. What tasks are you doing that someone else could do? Are you arranging chairs still? Why? Couldn’t a volunteer do it?
2. You don’t know how to explain what you do.
Intuition is hard to teach. Impossible really. That’s why you have to delegate the right things! Not everything can be delegated, but many things can. What projects are you working on now that someone else could do if you taught them how? I heard a great example of this today. Ted Williams was a great hitter in MLB, but he was an awful hitting coach. One day while trying to teach a young kid how to hit the ball, Ted said “Just watch the seams and you’ll know which way the ball is coming.” The kid responded “You can see the seams?” Intuitive things can’t be delegated, but tasks and projects with clear steps and goals can be. Using the chair example – show a volunteer how to do it right, create a diagram, and then give it away. Create a system that allows someone else to do what you’ve always done.
3. You don’t understand your role.
Jim Wideman is famous for a lot of saying. I could quote you many of them, but one of my favorites (paraphrased here.) “Generals spend time with generals, not deciding who drives the jeep.” Or said another way (also a Brother Jim-ism), “Do what only you can do.” There are certain tasks in your church that only you can do. Then there are tasks that others can do. It is not to imply that certain tasks are beneath you, but certain tasks aren’t your to accomplish. Understanding this appropriately is important. Walking by a piece of trash on the ground because it’s not your job to clean the building is wrong, but that doesn’t mean it’s your job to be the janitor every week either. Finding the right balance is important. There have been times I’ve ended up helping in a class room because the teacher called in or was late, then there have been other times I have asked someone else to do it so I could focus on the right task for me at the time. It’s much like the disciples in Acts 6:
“So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”” (Acts 6:2–4 NIV)
Know your role. What are the things that only you can do?
4. You find your value in the work you do.
This is one of the most dangerous thinking patterns in the church. “If someone else can do it, then they won’t need me anymore.” If we wrap ourselves up in this thinking, we being measuring our worth to the church, volunteers, and God based on the “product.” How many hours did you work this week? How many areas are you involved in? What did you “do” for God this week? Don’t misread this–God wants us to grow His Kingdom and share the Gospel, but our self-worth cannot be wrapped up in productivity.
In his book Soul Keeping, John Ortberg shares a story about an interaction with Dallas Willard. Ortberg asked Willard “What do I need to stay spiritually healthy?” Willard’s response was simple and shocking to Ortberg: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” That was it. Simple. Don’t be so busy. Don’t rush. When we fail to delegate because we find value in our productivity, we add to the hurry and make spiritual health a difficult task.
So I would encourage you–where are areas you can delegate? What tasks do you need to give up or train someone else to do? What do you need to focus on, but can’t because you are too busy doing something else?
He has over 28 years of experience in Children’s Ministry. Serving in pretty much every capacity available from puppet team coach to assistant preschool teacher.He has been a featured presenter at national and regional conferences. In 2010 Group Publishing listed him among a great group of leaders – “Top 20 Children’s Pastors to watch.”
Spencer is passionate about equipping and training leaders. He has the privilege to coach with Jim Wideman in his Infuse mentoring program. Additionally, Spencer provides personal leadership coaching and consulting (Email for information).
Spencer completed his Masters Degree in 2012 from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and is now a DMIN Candidate in “Servant Leadership for Team and Organizational Transformation” at Bethel Seminary is St. Paul, MN.