In his book Leadership Jazz, Max DePree writes “Clergy often see delegation as a shirking of their duty rather than a gracious act of involvement.”
Many pastors believe they must do all the preaching, all the teaching, all the visiting, and all the administering because that is what they’re trained to do and paid to do. Church councils often reinforce this by measuring the work of a pastor based on busyness rather than effectiveness.
But the Bible has another idea about the work of a pastor. Paul encourages Timothy (II Tim. 2:2) to find faithful persons in whom he can entrust ministry and in Ephesians 4 Paul identifies the primary work of congregational leaders as “equipping the saints for ministry.”
Here are 6 choices connected to the "gracious act of involvement”:
Choosing impact over accolades
Pastors often resist releasing ministry because they receive affirmation in doing ministry. They appreciate hearing, “that was a fine sermon this morning, pastor” or “your visit made a huge difference in my life.” Delegation demands letting go the accolades.
Choosing complexity over simplicity
Pastors often resist delegating ministry because it’s easier to do it themselves. Training others is a complex time demanding investment requiring patience and sacrifice.
Choosing equipping over doing
Every pastor should ask, “How much of my weekly schedule is given to equipping and how much to doing?” A good rule of thumb is that a quarter of a pastor’s work should focus on equipping. A helpful practice is to take others with you in the daily doing of ministry so they can observe and eventually do what you are doing.
Choosing accountability over abandonment
The greatest failure of delegation is giving away ministry without follow-up or on-going training. Every good mentor knows that mentees need evaluation and thoughtful guidance to become all they have the potential to become.
Choosing appreciation over criticism
Pastors who give away ministry are often tempted to criticize the work they’ve given away. Initially, ministry done by others will lack the quality of a seasoned pastor’s work. The first sermon preached by a young protégé will leave much room for growth. Such is the nature of a learning curve. With affirmation and helpful feedback quality will emerge over time.
Choosing the future over the present
The choice to engage in “the gracious act of involvement” is about choosing the future over the present. In the short term everything is better when done by the most gifted person in the room. In the long term everything is better when the most gifted person in the room invests their gifts in others who will carry those gifts forward to another generation.