How to delegate without destroying your hard work

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Photo Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

There is a fear in most of us that our hard work will come crashing down around us. I don’t know if it’s innate or something we’ve conjured up in the midst of our insecurities. All in all we are fearful of losing….big time.

This past year I’ve been on a journey of learning how to delegate responsibility. I’ve dealt with some tough stuff in me that has ultimately led to me delegating more to others than ever before. I still have such a long way to go, but I’m on the right track.

In order to talk freely about delegation and how to do it without destroying your work, you need to understand what delegation actually is.

The definition of delegate is:

to send or appoint (a person) as deputy or representative.

To delegate is to appoint a rep for you. Someone who can take your place. That has been life changing to me and is something that I’ve mulled over for awhile since I heard Brother Jim talk about it in length in his books and talks on volunteers. You must pour yourself into others in order for them to represent you well.

That being said, let’s talk about some ways you must delegate in order to keep your work intact.

1. Delegate responsibilities, not tasks

When someone is responsible for something it’s different. It’s their baby and they want to love it, care for it and grow it. Make sure you aren’t just delegating a task. Do this _________. Instead, let people know that this area is there responsibility. Teach them how you would handle that responsibility.

Hold them accountable toward their responsibility. Help them dream about it, grow it, and begin to make it their own.

2. The more you hold on the less you delegate

As leaders, we think that we are good at a lot of things. We’re not. Part of the role as leader is to help people understand the part that they need to play. If you hold all the parts then others can’t play. The more you hold to something the less effective you will be at delegation.

3. Why is more important than what and how

Why do we keep track of numbers? Why do we take information on first time guests? Why do we call when others are hurting?

The why is the most important thing that we can give to people. What and how are always negotiable as long as they can answer the why. Your delegates need to understand why you do the things that you do. Then they will be more willing to figure out what and how.

4. Delegation is a lifestyle and must be learned

Here is a good exercise if you are terrible at delegation. Go find a mom with 3 or more kids and ask how she gets everything done. Ask her to teach you everything that she does. She manages more than most leaders do with her own family. Delegation is something that you will need to do over and over and over again if you are doing to master it.

What are your tips for delegation?

  • LeaderTreks

    Love the thought on delegating responsibilities not tasks! Casting a vision for a volunteer or staff member to then become responsible is a great way to help know what your own expectations are for them (it will be frustrating when they fail your expectations, so it is probably worth figuring them out before hand). Also, the discipleship aspect that you included…to work with the delegate through the process will feed that person’s dedication and sense of ownership to their responsibility.
    Is there anything that you do (or use) to select whom you delegate which tasks to?


    • J.C. Thompson

      1. People who ask questions, probably want to grow.
      2. Gift sets or affinity for particular areas.

      Those are probably the big 2 for me. A lot of time praying and thinking about it too.

  • Marathon Kids

    It’s awesome you writing about this topic. Just yesterday, my self and the rest of my staff at Marathon Kids was in a meeting with David Pearson (Children’s Pastor at Springwell Church). He told us all that we are too busy, trying to do too many things, and that keeps us from our main ministry, reaching children for Christ! How do YOU go about finding others to delegate to, not just Sundays, but during the week too. Any ideas?

    • J.C. Thompson

      I ask and observe. It takes an understanding of knowing what you do. Asking yourself the question: What is my most important job here, what’s my purpose. Once you know what only you can do, you can begin to hand things off.

      Find their gifts and what you need accomplished and ask that person for help.