Saturday, August 4, 2012

We can't grow disciples if we do not learn to delegate.

Early in my bivocational pastorate I tried to do everything at the church.  I was worn out and about ready to leave the ministry when our judicatory had its annual meeting.  I scheduled a time to meet with a denominational leader to discuss what was happening in our church and my own frustrations and temptation to leave.  When I finished speaking he did not hesitate with his answer.  He said the problem was that I had become the church.  Not only was I wearing myself out by trying to do everything I was preventing others from being the church God had called them to be.  He was right.  I might complain that few people in the church would help with the ministry, but the truth was that I never asked.  The next Sunday I announced the title of my message, "Confessions of a Tired Pastor," and began to share with the congregation the conversation I had the previous weekend, my own sense of weariness, and my apologies for limiting them in their own spiritual growth as disciples.  I then announced that as of that moment I was not doing anything for which someone else had responsibility.  No longer would I go behind people and do the things they failed to do, and I would be asking others to step up.  Quite frankly, delegating tasks to others does not come natural to me.  I can do most of them quicker than I can train someone else how to do them, I know they are done if I do them, and I dislike asking people to do things.  But, not delegating prevents others to grow as disciples and it limits the ministry in our churches to only the things we can do ourselves.  No pastor should want to be guilty of either of these.

Delegation is more than just assigning tasks to people.  For delegation to be successful it has to be done while taking into consideration a person's unique spiritual giftedness and passion.  For instance, no pastor would want to ask me to become a choir director.  My musical abilities are extremely limited, and I am being kind to myself.  I have a great voice in case of fire or shipwreck, but you don't want me to lead singing.  In a similar fashion you would not want to ask the church grouch to lead the church greeter team.  One of the most important things a new pastor can do is to identify the gifts and passions of the people in the church so when it comes times to ask people to do certain things the pastor will know who is the best person for each task.

There are several good reasons why we need to do a better job at delegation.  One is that it provides our church with more ministry points.  If the pastor is the only minister in the congregation then the ministry of that church is limited to one person.  But, if the ministry has been delegated to a number of people the church has just multiplied its ministry by that number.  Second, it helps prevent fatigue for the minister.  Involving many people in the ministry of the church reduces the burden the pastor must carry.  Thirdly, it helps with disciple-making.

Growing disciples is more than just offering a number of Bible studies in the church.  Disciples need to learn the Scriptures, but in order for them to become disciples they must have opportunities to put into practice what they are learning.  Discipleship is education + service.  Delegating ministry opportunities to others enables them to grow as disciples.  Refusing to delegate stunts that growth.

If our churches are to be serious about developing disciples we must learn to delegate.  If we are serious about wanting to grow our churches we must learn to delegate.  If we who are in the ministry want to enjoy more productive ministries while maintaining a measure of balance in our lives we must learn to delegate.

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