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Avoiding the train-wreck

In my last post, I shared the A-Z Guide For Developing People and Growing Ministry, and said I’d explore some of those strategies over the next few weeks. As I pondered the list wondering where to begin, delegate ministry responsibilities seemed to jump out at me, and then a few others seemed to topple in behind it.

If I am honest, delegating ministry responsibilities has often been a challenge for me, and I know that I’m not alone. For most of us, there is an expectation that  ministry needs to move at a fast pace to keep up with our culture.  That expectation may be of our own making, from those who supervise us, or from those we serve. The need to reach the world for the sake of Christ is increasingly urgent; as the saying goes, there is so much to do and so little time.

With so much at stake, delegating ministry can feel risky. Will the volunteer do what I want when I need for them to do it and the way I want it done? Will I have to plead and coerce the volunteer to participate in training? If I put together a team, will I spend more precious time trying to get them to work together? Wouldn’t it just be easier to avoid the potential of a train wreck by doing the ministry myself?

Maybe… but that’s not really God’s vision for ministry, is it? Paul is clear in Ephesians 2 that we are all created to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do, and that the role of apostles, evangelists, prophets, and pastor/teachers is to equip the people for the work of ministry. As equipping leaders, we must focus on the vision for ministry.

So I put together a team and delegate ministry… and try to head off that train wreck, right? Wrong. Keeping a positive attitude is essential to developing people. If I doubt their ability, they will rise only to the level of my doubts…rarely beyond. We need to be realistic in our expectations, knowing that it’s going to take time for the team to learn to work together to accomplish a common goal.

Yes, there will be challenges along the way. My team may even come perilously close to disaster. But when I make it a point to notice the progress, we are all encouraged to stay the course.

The real key to delegating ministry responsibilities? Worry less and pray more. I once heard it said that worry is practical atheism. The Psalms show us that the cure for worry is prayer. Why worry when we can pray?

When all is said and done, it is God’s ministry, and he has made it clear that he wants his people to assist him with it. Perhaps the greatest potential for a train-wreck exists when we choose not to delegate ministry responsibilities.

I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on any of the strategies in the A to Z Guide. Which ones work for you? Which strategy reveals your growing edge? Post your comments below…

2 thoughts on “Avoiding the train-wreck

  1. I completely agree with the importance of delegating. However, I have known a few pastors that had trouble knowing what and when to delegate. I always had two rules for delegating. First, is there any confidential information involved? If so, then perhaps you should only delegate to an appropriate staff person. Second, after determining the skills and knowledge needed, is the person you are delgating to already overburdened? If so, find someone else. So delegate when you can, but always keep in mind how others will be affected.

    • So true, Fran! I especially appreciate the caution about delegating to someone who is already too busy. I’ve often heard it said that, if you want something done and done right, ask the busiest person you know. Never agreed with that… It’s the fast track for volunteer burnout!

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