There is a fine line between being a leader who delegates well and one who is lazy. The one who delegates well (entrusts a task or responsibility to another person, Oxford Dictionary), does it so that they open up more capacity while the lazy leader delegates so they can remove things from their plate.
Delegation is wise. We see that in the Bible as Jethro instructs Moses (Exodus 18) to delegate responsibility to others so that he could focus on what only he could do as the leader of the people. Simply put, there’s too much ministry for you to do by yourself, and your role as a pastor is clear according to Ephesians 4 that you aren’t even called to do it all by yourself, but instead, you are to train others for the work of the ministry. When we look at Exodus 18 and Ephesians 4 we see a clear picture of the need for delegation in the life of a leader. However, there are some things that you should never delegate:
1. Sharing vision. As the ministry leader, you are responsible for painting the picture of how the ministry can win and how awesome it will be when the vision is accomplished. The imagery here is a general giving a speech about achieving victory in the battle. You are that general and the picture you are painting needs to be clear and compelling. The people in your student ministry can repeat and pass on your vision, but you need to be the one consistently shouting it from the podium or the front of the battle line. When you delegate this or disregard it, the people will create and begin to live by their own individual vision causing fractures in purpose and decreased effectiveness in accomplishing your mission.
2. Managing your budget. There is great stewardship in managing a student ministry budget and is an area of ministry where I’ve seen many student pastors lose credibility with their leadership. Your budget is the amount of money that your church leadership has given you to operate the ministry and managing it should be treated with a great deal of respect. What has become a joke to some, student pastors losing receipts or always going over budget, does damage to you as a leader and damage to the calling of student pastors as a whole. If you want respect and more leadership opportunities as a student pastor, this is one way you can begin to earn it instantly.
3. Your own spiritual health. This one may sound strange to you but it happens all the time when you outsource your own spiritual health to the sermon preparer and ministry leader inside you. God desires you as a person, and your desire should be a relationship with Him beyond seeing Him as a sermon vending machine. There should be time where you read the Bible, pray, fast, or participate in other spiritual disciplines for the sole purpose of being with Jesus no strings attached.
Another instance where this can happen is viewing the spiritual health of your students as a of reflection of your own spiritual health. Just because your students are thriving spiritually doesn’t necessarily mean that you are. A destructive lie of the enemy is to get you to believe that you must be doing fine because your ministry is growing and the people in it are deepening. These things are completely separate. God can work in spite of your declining spiritual health and there will be seasons where you will be growing in maturity while your students seem to be disengaged. Your spiritual health is yours.
While these three things are true in any context, there will be others that are non-delegateable for the context that you are serving in right now. Spend some time thinking through what some of those might be then ask the following question: what’s currently on your task list that needs to be delegated so you can focus more energy on what only you can do?
The next step is to identify the people that can do it and train them to do it effectively. The temptation will always be to adopt the mindset “if I want it done right, then I should just do it myself” but that mindset will always leave you burnt out and less effective while at the same time hindering the overall potential of the ministry.
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Students. Ben is passionate about investing in student ministry leaders like you. You can find more encouragement from Ben on his YouTube Channel, Student Ministry That Matters.