If You Want It Done Right, You Don’t Have to Do It Yourself!
For anyone in leadership, delegating effectively is one of the most important skills to learn. I think it’s also one of the least well-developed skills, especially in the church.
Few pastors have had any training in how to delegate effectively. From what I’ve seen, pastors tend to make one of two mistakes. The first is to not delegate at all. Pastors who make this mistake usually fall into the “no one can do it as well as I can” kind of thinking. Ironically, that’s often true, at least, at the beginning. However, the problem is that no one ever will be as good as you if you don’t train them by delegating. It’s very short-sighted thinking.
The other mistake is to assign tasks and call it delegation. In this case you are giving people specific, isolated tasks to do, and when they are done, they need to come back to you for the next thing. There is no autonomy or responsibility for them to exercise. They are just following instructions. This is deceptive because it looks like you are delegating when you actually aren’t. Implicit in delegation is the idea that people are free to do things in the way they want, as long as they get the job done properly. There are several problems that come when you confuse delegation with assigning tasks. In this case you can really only give low-level tasks away. That won’t change your workload, it won’t develop your people, and it certainly won’t ensure successful results.
Underneath it all, delegation is a skill that can be learned. It does not come automatically to most people, which means one has to work on it intentionally. I think any pastor can learn to do it; he or she just needs to take the time. That can be a challenge because at first it doesn’t feel like productive work. Eventually, however, it becomes the key to greater productivity than ever.
What has worked for you? What has been frustrating, or unsuccessful?