Our deacons won’t do their work.” “The elders won’t let us do anything!” “They get started and then quit.” “They try to take over.” “We get started and then the elders come in and do it their way without explaining. I’m not going to waste my time anymore.”
I hear these comments in congregation after congregation. Each person is frustrated. Neither wants to hurt the other. No one wants kingdom work to be stifled and ineffective.
It is my observation that one or both do not understand how to delegate the work that needs to be done. Here are the most helpful suggestions I have seen on giving work to another while maintaining oversight.
Steps in Delegation
- Select the people who have the ability and the desire to do the job. There is nothing more frustrating than to be given a task for which you have no experience, training, or interest.
- Be sure they clearly understand what you expect. One of the most effective ways to do this is to discuss it, have the person being assigned repeat back to you what their understanding of the job is, then write it down. The only people who don’t need written job descriptions and agreements are people who will never die and who will never forget.
- Let them know you sincerely believe in their ability to carry out the task. Express your faith in them and their dedication. Not many people like to invest their life in “busy work.” If you believe the work is important, communicate that clearly. If you don’t think it is important, don’t waste your time and others’ time even discussing it.
- Secure their commitment to follow through. Ask how they feel about the job and in being responsible to carry it out. Don’t assume someone agreed to do a task. Then we are ready for the next step.
- Negotiate a deadline. A deadline has been established when you have a day, date, year, and time. The deadline may designate the time the task is completed or when an evaluation will be conducted.
- Provide latitude for them to use their own imagination and initiative. There is a possibility the person given the task may use a different method or approach than you would have used.
- Let them know in the beginning you’re going to follow up and do it. At the initial meeting, it is usually good to set up a time of follow-up and evaluation. If there is no followup and accountability, it is a clear sign you didn’t believe it was important.
- Don’t do the job for them. To give a person a project then do it yourself is to assure they will not be interested in being recruited again. If they are not getting the work done on time, check, investigate, and help solve or at least understand why the work is not progressing. Determine if it needs to be reassigned, assistance given, or the deadline extended.
- Reward them commensurately with the results they produce. People need encouragement. Part of your job as a leader is to provide recognition and affirmation. Notes, announcements, thank-you conversations, plaques, and dinners are ways of saying, “Thank you. Job well done. I appreciate you.”
Michael Hyatt has some excellent material on delegation and many other leadership topics. I listen to his podcasts and read his blogs. One helpful blog post: Michael Hyatt, The Five Levels of Delegation . You can search for other topics and subscribe for his material from his website.
[tweetthis]The only people who don’t need written agreements are people who will never die and who will never forget. — J Barber[/tweetthis]
If elders are doing the work of deacons and it has been going on for a long time, it is because everybody likes it that way. What does the Good Shepherd say about the job descriptions of elders and deacons? See: How Elders Can Function More as Shepherds than Firefighters .
If deacons do not have specific ministries and are not active in leading, it is because everybody likes it the way it is better than the pain and effort it would take to change it. It will be better for everyone and for the Lord’s work if we recognize our different roles and encourage each other to carry them out with excellence.
[tweetthis]Let shepherds shepherd and deacons deak. — Jerrie Barber[/tweetthis]