Have you found yourself often overburdened with workloads which seem as if they will never be accomplished? Or when you finish some, more just seem to appear and it seems like there is no way out and you will never get out of this cycle – you my friend, like me, may have a delegation issue.
Delegation, the ability to entrust a task or responsibility to another person, is an art: a skill that is mastered and acquired through practice and imparted to us from above – it does not come naturally. You see the crux of delegation is trust, a firm belief in the reliability and ability of someone to do something. So if you are like me and have, to some extent, trust issues then delegation may be a problem for you.
Having been put into many leadership positions throughout my life: doing everything for myself from a young age, captain for my school football club, leading university projects and leadership roles in the church, it is only recently that I had an epiphany that I find it tremendously difficult to delegate. The reality is, maybe you can relate here, I want to do everything myself. When others in a team I'm leading make mistakes the “I could have done it better if I was in that position” thought blossoms in my mind.
But recently, a friend of mine made me ponder something that I never pondered before: when explaining that I was stressed and basically overburdened I was asked why that was the case and in passing and jokingly I said because “I don’t trust people”. You see out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 4:23), although said loosely that truly was a reflection of what was in my heart. However, I did not realise that at the time. After further responding to my friend that I had delegated "as much as I could" I was confronted with this response: “delegating as much as you can and delegating as much as you trust… these are two different things”. Reread, ponder and let that last line sink in for a second.
You see my workload was always overflowing, my to-do list was always full, and my days were always crammed. I rarely had any me time or rest because my life accelerated at a thousand miles per hour; if I was not on a call dealing with my workload I would be on my laptop trying to get things done. My breakfast, lunch and dinner break? Who has time to relax and enjoy the food, I ate and worked. Catchup sessions with friends and family? Well… I can have a conversation while content creating for the blog or programme planning for church. Every millisecond of the day was utilised. But after much wise counsel from my best friend and personal counsellor I realised, that was not how life was meant to be and definitely not how God desired my life to be.
As a result of my delegation issue, the work I loved doing gradually started to become something I resented and the joy in it began to fade. Due to my crazy schedule, I often experienced burnout, teary nights, bruised relationships and my mental health as well my morale hit an all-time low.
In Exodus 18:14-26 however, God gave me an insight into the art of delegation, which I believe has its origins in the Godhead. When you have time, personally cruise through those passages and you will definitely glean a profusion of lessons from Moses’ experience.
Moses was the leader of a herd of people, who were freed by God from bondage and slavery in Egypt: hence the name of the book, Exodus, meaning a mass departure of people. Departing from Egypt to the promised land, Moses was divinely delegated the duty of successfully leading the vast stiff-necked, disobedient and murmuring multitude to the land flowing with milk and honey – not an easy job as you can probably imagine. As Moses was the antitype of Jesus Christ, he was the medium between God and the people. God would instruct and teach Moses and thus he would relay all he was told to the people of God. Although he was the appointed leader and managed the intricate system, God did not ordain for him to carry such an onerous burden on his own.
Moses, like myself and maybe like you, was overburdened, stressed, and filled to the brim with his workload, and it did not get any easier. Moses sat from morning until evening, basically all day, judging the people of Israel because he knew, or in other words, he was well experienced in all the statutes and laws of God (Exodus 18:14-16). When his father-in-law Jethro eye-witnessed this, he was dumbfounded and spoke to Moses plainly “the thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.” (Exodus 18:17-18, italics added).
After setting the foundation Jethro counselled Moses to open his heart to the counsel he would give him and to further ask God for confirmation of the counsel given. Moses was then advised to teach the people what he knew and to further show them how to apply that knowledge in various circumstances. When delegating he was to delegate wisely, to men who were God-fearing, sound, not covetous and men of truth (Exodus 18:19-21). It was advised that the appointed leaders would manage the smaller issues and they would bring the more weighty and intricate issues to Moses. Thus his burden would be eased and he would not spread himself thin and wear himself out (Exodus 18:22-26); in light of the Godly counsel Moses acted accordingly.
What struck me was that Moses, arguably one of the greatest leaders, a highly devoted and spiritual man – a friend of God (Exodus 33:11) had to be counselled to delegate. Moses, like me and maybe you, was prone to take on every burden upon himself – he had a delegation issue.
Upon reflection, I soon realised that my burdens were due to being committed to too many things, my lack of trust in other people, and I was fearful of the ‘what ifs. Adding to that I had a teaspoon of pride in my heart which never helps anything. Whichever way you look at it – the thing that I was doing was not good.
Let us be real though, there are many ‘fears’ when delegating, ‘what if the person will do it differently?’ That is not a problem. Just because something will be done differently doesn't mean it won’t be done well. I got so entangled in my own personal standards and methodology, but all God looks for is a willing heart – He will deal with the rest.
As Jethro counselled Moses if the people you are working with do not have the right skills what is stopping you from teaching them? If they lack skills, take time out and help them accordingly so that they can do what you do, and expose them to experiences so they can learn from them.
You most likely got into a position which you have because someone else invested in you: I would not be where I am now if my pastor, teacher, coach and friends did not take the time to teach me, nurture me and guide me in my positions. It was by these people believing in me even when I saw myself as unworthy and with many defects that I was able to grow and become who I am today and who I will be tomorrow.
Don’t be like me and get interwoven into your own personal standards and methodology. Who told you that your way was the best way? God has a thousand ways to provide in which we no none, likewise, God has a thousand ways in which He can accomplish something, you are not the only one. If it comes from the heart God will be well pleased.
As I continued to ponder on the art of delegation God revealed to me that what He desires me to do, He does Himself – God always leads by example.
The Godhead is the epitome of delegation. All three, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit which are one (1 John 5:7), have unanimously delegated roles: the Son was delegated to create and to be the Saviour of the world (Colossians 1:12-19; Genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8), the Spirit was delegated to convict us of sin, righteousness, judgement, truth and things to come (John 16:7-14), the Father from my finite mind is the architect (John 20:21; John 3:16, 35; 12:49; Matthew 24:36; 1 Corinthians 11:3).
You see the Godhead could have done everything themselves but no, they delegated dominion over to us, to govern all creation (Psalm 8:3-9). Could they have named all the animals? Most certainly but Adam was delegated the responsibility of naming them all (Genesis 2:19-20). The angels were delegated with the task and responsibility of ministering unto us who are heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). The Godhead could have divinely preached the Gospel to the whole world faultlessly but what does the scriptures say?
“Go” (or in other words, I am delegating you to) “teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” - Matthew 28:19-20
We have been delegated the divine task and responsibility of sharing His message to the entire human race (Matthew 5:13-16; Romans 10:9-15).
When it comes to delegation we must have the mind of God and see the bigger picture – it is not solely about you or me. God is love and love is other-centred, thus God delegates because in doing so we grow and learn, otherwise we would stagnate. Do we make mistakes, of course we do, major ones, but every step of the way the word, the Spirit and the life of Christ are ever present to show, nurture and teach us how to improve; we have a present help in every time of need for He promised “I am with you always”.
What makes the heavenly delegation even more profound is that what I was afraid of (others doing things differently) is embraced and capitalised, – difference is beautiful and powerful in the eyes of God. This is evident through evangelism, different characters share the gospel in entirely diverse but beautiful ways and as a result, it is even more potent and more people are reached.
As we aim to acquire the art of delegation we truly need to ask God for guidance and humility. Guidance because there is a way that seems right to us, but the end is a disaster (Proverbs 14:12). As we ask God for guidance in what to delegate, who to delegate and whom to delegate something to, God will impart to us the divine wisdom (James 1:5) we need to master the art of delegation.
Secondly, we need to ask for humility which does not come naturally to us. In delegating, “humility is relinquishing control, when necessary and empowering others to do the same job with their God-given abilities.” Truly it is humbling to watch ‘the show go on’ perfectly without you, and then humbly realise that you are not the glue that binds everything together – God is.
By God’s grace, we are all striving to be like God in everything that we do. God is love, and love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7): as we journey to master the art of delegation let us bear with those we give responsibility and tasks to, let us believe in them and hope in the best for them, and let us trust in them as Christ has entrusted and delegated us to be the expositors of His Gospel of Love. As we do this we will fall back in love with the work we do, we will have more time for ourselves, our bruised relationships will heal and our mental health will return to its equilibrium.
I stand here before you still on this journey, it is not an easy one. You may relapse as Moses did (Numbers 11:1-14) and as I often do but as He did for Moses He will “take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.” (Numbers 11:17)
God will be with you and me guiding and counselling us each step of the way until we master – the Art of Delegation.