Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield say that delegation is a critical skill that improves a leader’s focus, multiplies impact, and develops the capacity of others. They offer four key questions to help a leader discern which tasks and responsibilities should be delegated to others.
There are certain things that only you can do from your position of leadership. There are innumerable things that you can do and maybe many of which you want to do. When trying to decide how to narrow your focus and multiply your impact as a leader, the questions to consider are not simply Can I do it? and Do I want to do it? If you say yes to everything you can do, you’ll burn out and be of no value to anyone.
Jethro told Moses that he didn’t have to do everything he was capable of doing. Other people could also be capable of taking on certain tasks. Hanging on to those things is bad leadership. On the other hand, passing off everything that you simply don’t want to do is also bad leadership. You may need to be the one to do something that you don’t like to do. Being the leader doesn’t mean you get to choose the perks and enjoyable tasks and send the other stuff down the ladder to the folks who haven’t paid their dues yet.
When it comes to focusing your attention and multiplying your impact as a leader, you have to ask yourself the following questions.
1. Is it within my area of responsibility?
As soon as you’re aware of a need as a leader, your first step is to identify the person responsible for meeting that need. If someone else has already been developed to a point of overseeing the responsibilities for that area of need, you direct attention to that person and clearly communicate what you’ve observed. At that point, your primary work is complete, and you are freed to focus on your unique area of responsibilities.
2. Can I do it in time?
If a particular task falls within your area of responsibility as a leader, the next question to ask is purely pragmatic. Realistically, do you have the bandwidth to meet this need in a timely manner? If you can’t perform a task within the necessary timeframe, you need to delegate the responsibility to someone who can. But your responsibility doesn’t end in this case with simply assigning the task to someone else. You also need to reevaluate your time. Why didn’t you have the ability to meet a need that was within your area of leadership? If you’re constantly in a state where you have too much to do and not enough time, you’re a point of bottleneck for ministry effectiveness. Your time restraints are limiting the growth of your ministry and the health of your church. So, either your time management needs to drastically improve or you need to reevaluate your area of responsibility.
3. Can I do it best?
When you have time to do something that is within your area of responsibility, there’s another question to ask. This question is a strategic one that requires even more humility than the second question about evaluating your time. Just like you don’t want to overextend or overcommit yourself, spreading yourself so thin that you don’t have anything of substance to offer, you likewise don’t want to keep doing something that someone else who has the time could do better. If you truly want what is best for your church, then you’ll be willing to delegate responsibilities that you may even enjoy to someone who has more bandwidth or ability to do the job well. When something pops up that you know would actually be a great fit for someone else on your team, delegate that opportunity to them. If they’re constantly better suited for a certain task, consider redefining your areas of responsibly to allow them to become the go-to leader for meeting those needs that play to their strengths.
If you feel a twinge of insecurity pricking at your ego, be assured that not only will the body benefit by repositioning each of you to focus on your strengths, but you also will gain credibility and loyalty as a leader by entrusting honorable responsibilities to gifted members of the body. Your job isn’t to do the ministry but to equip each person to play the part that best serves everyone. You’re becoming a leader of leaders in this instance.
4. Can others do it well?
Finally, when everyone is positioned to do their best work, and you’re serious about delegation for the sake of multiplication, you have one final question to ask. In the previous steps, there were more cut and dried answers, even if they took a humbling gut check. This step is more a matter of discernment and intentionality for the sake of your mission in the long run. Here the goal isn’t optimization. It’s multiplication. This is what takes your leadership to the next level. This is where the most intentional multiplication occurs.
What are you doing to intentionally help new leaders grow into the unique ability that you are so good at? For example, as a preacher, do you share the pulpit and do anything to raise up new preachers? As you develop other leaders, it’s important that you occasionally delegate opportunities that they can handle well, even if you can handle them better.
Leadership has to adjust and modify as ministry expands and grows. We can’t be who we used to be. This is difficult for us leaders. But if the ministry is about God, and not about us, we have to be willing to adjust our leadership to meet the demands of the ministry that God is growing around us. This is, simply put, what leadership stewardship looks like.
Adapted from Leveling the Church: Multiplying Your Ministry by Giving it Away by Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield (©2020). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.