If there ever was a skill we as youth pastors needed to grow in it’s this: giving things away. Especially the things we don’t want or need in the first place—like jobs and tasks someone else can do, probably better than us.
Delegating. It sounds so nice in theory, but it’s pretty hard to put in practice for many. So let’s walk through six crucial insights you need to learn to give things away.
Know to Stop and Think
The first rule about delegating is to stop doing and start thinking. Especially when we’re confronted with an overwhelming amount of work, we tend to dive right in and start doing. Often it’s because the voice in the back of our head says it’s easier and faster to just do it ourselves than to ‘waste time’ thinking about it.
What you need to delegate is one, maybe two minutes. That’s it. Push your chair back, drop what you’re doing, take a deep breath…and think. As soon as you’ve trained yourself to think instead of do, you’ve made a crucial step towards delegating.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
A key aspect of delegating is to delegate the right stuff. As you’re thinking about the task, ask yourself: am I the best person to do this? Would someone else be able to do it equally well? If the task is a clear strength of you and there’s honestly no one else who could do it, by all means, do it yourself. But if it’s not, you’re not the best person to do it.
Know Your Priorities
Even if the task is something you’re reasonably good at, ask yourself next if it really is the best investment of your time. How important is the task? Do you have the time to do it and of not, is there something you consider less important that you could drop? These are all questions that need to be considered before you make the decision to do it yourself.
Know Your People
You can’t delegate if you don’t have someone to delegate to. You need to know your people, especially their skills. And by your people, I mean anyone willing and able to assist you in your ministry: church members, student leaders, parents, youth leaders, students, even the (senior) pastor.
Keeping a short skills file on people may sound creepy, but it’s very effective—especially in a larger church where you can’t remember everyone’s skills in your head. A few quick notes about skills, hobbies, even professional experience is a wonderful future reference for when you need to delegate a task or project.
Our designs were always made by the students themselves for example. We created a team with three students who could designs flyers, invitations, and other materials we needed and I asked a church member with experience in PR to supervise this team. As a result, I completely delegated this activity to others. But the only reason I was able to do that, was because I had taken the time to get to know the students, so I knew they were good at this, and I actively searched for a church member with skills in this area.
Know the Investment is Worth it
Oftentimes, we reason that asking someone else will end up costing us more time, because we’ll have to explain everything, maybe even train them. It’s a valid concern. However, it’s not true.
Yes, delegating to someone the first time is often time-consuming, but you’ll see that the time investment goes down after a while. They’ll start to learn how you work, how you like things done, and they’ll grow in their skills.
More importantly: there’s a bigger picture. Delegating isn’t just for your benefit—it’s also beneficial for those you delegate to, and for your ministry as a whole. Allowing others to serve may encourage them, make them more committed to the ministry. Giving responsibility especially empowers people, students more than anyone else. By delegating, you’re creating opportunities for others to serve and grow.
Know How to Delegate
A mistake many people make, is simply handing off tasks to others. That’s not delegating—that’s getting rid of unwanted actions. Delegating successfully means carefully picking someone you entrust this task to, then sitting him or her down to talk it through.
Two aspects are crucial: making clear what you want done and what the end result should look like and determining how much guidance and instruction your person needs to get the job done.
Be aware that a big reason why people—leaders especially—stop serving, is because they’re being suffocated with too much instruction and too little freedom and autonomy. On the other hand, volunteers also back out because they feel overwhelmed when they get too little instruction. Ask yourself: what does this person know already and what does he or she needs to do a solid job? How much supervision is necessary and how much is too much?
Set your people up for success, and thereby yourself as well, by delegating well.