6 Lessons I've Learned on Delegation for Church Leaders

Posted by Aaron Buer on June 23, 2016

I bet you’re busy. I know I’m busy. If you’re in church leadership, you’re a busy person. There’s so much to accomplish and seemingly not enough time to do it.

Here’s something else: I bet you are surrounded by talented people. If you’re a good church leader, you’ve recruited great people.

One more thing. I bet you wish you could delegate some of your tasks and responsibilities to the talented people around you. You’d have more time to focus on your strengths or new opportunities and the talented people around you could grow in experience and expertise.

It’s so obviously a win. In fact, in the words of Michael Scott, it might just be a “win, win, win.”


But of course, there’s a problem.  Very few of us effectively delegate.

It just doesn’t seem to work.

In theory it should speed things up, but in real life it seems to slow things down. That was exactly my experience, until I started to follow some of the principles here. Now, I’m more free than ever to focus on my strengths and my team is growing in expertise, experience and fulfillment.

My hope for this post is that you could learn from my years of trial and error in the art of delegation. I’ve learned 6 important lessons over the years that I think are critical for church leaders. Here they are:

1. Decide What Can Be Delegated

As a church leader, not all your tasks and responsibilities are equal. There are certain hats that only you can wear. If you delegate these roles, your organization or church will suffer.

There is nothing wrong with admitting this reality. Step one in unlocking the power of delegation is to decide what can and cannot be delegated. Protect what cannot be delegated and begin to empower others to do what can be delegated. For me, here’s what can never be delegated:

  1. Directing my team strategically
  2. Championing our team culture
  3. Driving curriculum creation
  4. Developing communicators

Here are some important tasks that I can delegate:

  1. Day to day operation of my department
  2. Managing our budget
  3. Recruiting, training and developing volunteers

Step one in unlocking the power of delegation is deciding what can and cannot be delegated.

2. Delegate to the Right People

Here’s a hard lesson I learned: Don’t delegate to people in your organization who look like they aren’t busy enough.

[tweetthis]Don’t delegate to people in your organization who look like they aren’t busy enough.[/tweetthis]

Delegate to driven people who consistently deliver. The quickest way to make yourself hate the idea of delegation is to try to delegate fairly to everyone.

Instead, delegate to people who fit the tasks. Match the task to the gifting of the person. This requires knowing the gifts and talents of your team. This is what it looks like for me:

  • If the task is related to networking or research, then Jake will be great.
  • If the task is related to communicating or energizing a team, then Luke will be perfect.
  • If the task has to do with caring for a hurting individual in our ministry, then Alena is ideal.
  • If the task involves details, logistics and planning, then Elisa is the best choice.
  • If the task requires creative expression or design, then Kirk will nail it.

Effective delegation requires knowing the skills and passions of your people. Delegate to the right people.

3. Tailor Your Directions

Just last week, I learned an important lesson on delegation. My team was on an overnight retreat. One of our team-building sessions was discussing our DISC Profiles and how our personalities impact team dynamics. During our discussion, a team member shared that how I delegate influences how effectively he can accomplish the task.

You see, I am a big picture thinker. If you delegate a task to me, I would prefer something like:


I thrive on directions like this. Details stifle my creativity. Just let me figure it out. I’ll make it awesome.

My mistake was assuming that everyone likes directions like this. What I discovered is that my team members with opposite DISC Profiles from me feel out-to-sea with these instructions. For these team members, I’ve learned that more details are actually liberating. For them, something like this is much more helpful:


The key is to learn what approach works for each team member.   If your team has never taken the DISC Profile, I highly recommend it. It’s simple and cheap and leads to great discussion and clarity.

4. Empower

One of my core leadership beliefs is that empowered people do great things. In our ministry, our volunteer small group leaders do an incredible job discipling and mentoring students. One of the main reasons is that we clearly empower them to own these responsibilities. We say, “You are the youth pastors in the lives of these kids.”

If you want to unlock the power of delegation in your church, empower your people. Give them responsibility and authority not just a task.

How do you know if you are clearly empowering your people? I think one simple question can reveal the answer:

Does the person you’re delegating to believe they are doing your job for you or are they doing their job?

[tweetthis]Does the person you’re delegating to believe they are doing your job for you or are they doing their job?[/tweetthis]

That’s the key. They need ownership. Ask yourself, am I truly willing to release this task or responsibility? If not, you’re not quite ready to delegate it.

5. Clear Measurables

We’re often frustrated in the outcome of delegation because we didn’t clearly articulate what success looks like. In the absence of vision, we all make up our own ideas. A key aspect to effective delegation is clear measurables.

Answering these three questions will help you clearly articulate measurables.

  • This is what I want…
  • This is when I want it…
  • This is how I want it…

By answering these questions to the person we are delegating to, we create appropriate expectations for what success looks like.

6. Feedback

Here’s an obvious lesson that took me way too long to figure out:

If you delegate a task and don’t love the results and say nothing, the next time you delegate a task to that person there’s a 100% chance you won’t love the results again. Shocking.

The final step in unlocking the power of delegation is feedback. Feedback provides an opportunity for growth, improvement and confidence. When we choose to give feedback, there is potential that the process of delegation could become better and better.

The best resource on feedback that I’ve come across is Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.


If, like many of us, you struggle with delivering or receiving feedback clearly and effectively, this book is a great help.

Let’s wrap this up.

You’re busy. You have talented people around you. Delegating might just be the strategy you need. These 6 lessons I learned could help you unlock the power of delegation.

Has there been something that's worked for you that I didn't include? I’d love to hear your ideas on how to delegate effectively in the comments below?

Topics: Advice

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