Dr. Charles R. Phelps
Many pastors struggle with stress and the lack of ministerial fulfillment. I would like to suggest that making one decision can provide the cure for both of these diseases. You must decide to delegate.
D.L. Moody said, "It's better to get ten men to do the work than to do the work of ten men!" Moody's sage advice is filled with scriptural wisdom. Myron Rush makes this point: "A person may be in a leadership position, but if he isn't willing to delegate, he isn't a leader at all — he is a hired hand"*
The Bible is filled with detailed descriptions of delegation. Solomon mastered the fine art of managing through men, and the kingdom was enlarged. The fourth chapter of I Kings introduces us to those responsible for Solomon's armies, meals, and taxes. Our Savior was certainly willing to delegate. The first eighteen verses of Luke 10 record the sending out of seventy itinerant preachers. After the Lord gave them detailed instructions, He sent them to preach. Though these messengers were inexperienced and far less capable than the Master, their ministry was blessed by God. Eventually these messengers would "turn the world upside down" (Acts 17:6).
Solomon and the Savior both knew something that we in ministry often forget. They knew that disciples are made through delegation. They knew that delegation is godly and that the failure to delegate is ungodly. They knew that when God created Adam He placed Him in Eden "to dress it and to keep it" (Genesis 2:15). God brought "every beast of the field" and "the fowl of the air" before Adam "to see what he would call them" (Genesis 2:19, 20). The Psalmist explicitly reveals God's intent to delegate in Psalm 8:4–6, saying: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet."
Many in ministry need to hear the wise counsel of Jethro, who told his very capable son-in-law Moses to "divide and conquer" or else be conquered by frustration (Exodus 18:18–23). Moses listened to his father-in-law and followed his advice. Soon seventy men were recruited, trained, and commissioned. Moses discovered that "it is better to get seventy men to do the job than to do the job of seventy men."
Why do we not delegate?
1. We fail to plan.
Delegation requires foresight. Recruiting someone at the last minute is called "dumping," not delegating. Successful delegation will require successful communication, and such communication will require time. In order to delegate, you will need to think ahead.
2. We are proud.
We think that no one else can do the job as well as we can. Our education, experience, and aptitude can form walls between us and those whom God has called us to mentor. We tend to think that since the person in the pew has never been a student in seminary, he is unfit or unprepared. Have we forgotten that God was more able to name the animals than Adam and that Christ was a far more powerful preacher than the seventy? In order to delegate you must be humble.
3. We lack vision for growth.
Ministries are built by men who understand that pyramids are made tall by widening their foundations. In order to widen the foundation of our ministries, we must decide to delegate. Spectators become critics, but participants become partners. In order to delegate, we must maintain a vision for growth.
What are the benefits of delegation?
1. We avoid burnout.
When Barnabas was overwhelmed with the growing needs of the ministry in Antioch, he recruited a man of questionable qualifications by the name of Paul (Acts 11:19–25). The decision Barnabas made spared both the minister and the ministry, bringing blessings instead of blisters (Acts 11:26).
2. We develop leaders.
The best way to protect a church from the plague of inexperience is to solicit involvement and thereby develop leaders. The Bible teaches us that every member needs to be a minister (I Corinthians 12). Pastors are specifically commissioned to take the treasures entrusted to them and pass them along to another generation (II Timothy 2:2). Pastors who provide people with the tools and the opportunity to minister will soon find themselves sending forth disciples into the ministry. Where disciples are being developed and deployed, the Spirit will always replenish the ministry with ready recruits.
3. We obey God.
Since everyone will appear individually "before the judgment seat of Christ" (II Corinthians 5:10), it is important for each one to be involved in the work of Christ. People who never run will never hear "Well done!" It is our Savior's desire that "every man have praise of God" (I Corinthians 4:5). Making sure that men and women involve themselves in carrying cups of cold water in the name of the Lord is the duty of the disciple-making minister.
4. We encourage members to pray and study.
When church members become servants and teachers, their knees bend and their Bibles are opened. It is natural that involvement in ministry will prompt people to pray and to study God's Word.
5. We encourage creativity.
It is amazing to discover that involving two workers in a task will result in four different ways to do it. Such creativity can be channeled to come up with one best solution and will teach people to agree and work together (Amos 3:3).
Delegation should be an ongoing process. Make a list of the tasks that you need to delegate. Write the name of someone who needs to be recruited. Write out a job description and make an appointment with the person whom the Spirit placed upon your heart. Each time you do this, you will be developing a disciple in God's work. Follow this prescription continually and you will feel the stress dissipate and find fulfillment in the ministry.
*Myron Rush, Management: A Biblical Approach (Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries, 2002) p. 132.
Pastor Phelps has been the senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Concord, New Hampshire, since 1989. He is the vice president of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship.
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