The goal of discipleship is not only maturity and growth, but exercising gifts while being equipped for ministry. Delegation is an art, and those in leadership responsible for the decentralization of the mission need to not only be competent in the work of delegating but effective in training others as well.
Delegation can be a challenge for several reasons. You can be a perfectionist (like me) and have a standard of excellence and thoroughness that makes it difficult for those just getting started. When an opportunity to serve or minister is executed poorly, time and energy are required to teach and train, which seems more taxing than simply doing it yourself (sometimes you not only have to do this but also correct what was done!). A commitment to making disciples and training them for service is a messy job, and it becomes even messier when the communication lines and expectations of the delegation process are not clear.
Michael Hyatt has written a nice little explanation of the “5 Levels of Delegation” that I found really helpful. Here’s how he explained the process:
Level 1: Do exactly what I have asked you to do. Don’t deviate from my instructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.
Level 2: Research the topic and report back. We will discuss it, and then I will make the decision and tell you what I want you to do.
Level 3: Research the topic, outline the options, and make a recommendation. Give me the pros and cons of each option, but tell me what you think we should do. If I agree with your decision, I will authorize you to move forward.
Level 4: Make a decision and then tell me what you did. I trust you to do the research, make the best decision you can, and then keep me in the loop. I don’t want to be surprised by someone else.
Level 5: Make whatever decision you think is best. No need to report back. I trust you completely. I know you will follow through. You have my full support.
As you can see, with each new level, there is a greater degree of responsibility coupled with greater permission or empowerment. One of the biggest mistakes in delegation is to increase responsibility without increasing permission (to succeed or fail). You raise expectations without equipping and empowering them in their work. Instead, they are left frustrated and strapped, not because of incompetence but because of poor delegation on part of the disciple-maker.
As a disciple-maker, when you don’t excel in delegation, you likely will not excel in multiplication. A failure to delegate caps your influence and limits the amount of work you can do alone. However, healthy delegation in the disciple-making process creates multi-generational channels of gospel influence where prospective disciples anticipate being challenged, encouraged, and inspired to step into new leadership roles with the blessing of their discipler whose example has served as a trustworthy guide and template in God-honoring service.
As I wrap up these few thoughts on discipleship, delegation, and decentralization, there are questions in the kingly administration that should be asked for assessment and continued development.
» Have I clearly communicated to my disciple what he or she is expected to do?
» Have I adequately modeled for my disciple how the task should be performed?
» Have I created space and granted permission for my disciple to succeed or fail on their own?
» Does my disciple feel intimidated or inspired in the new work I am handing them to do?
» Have I sufficiently equipped and resourced my disciple to flourish in their labors?
» How am I training my disciple to become a delegator in the future?
I realize there are more questions that could be asked in delegation, but these are intended to help in the kingly role that facilitates the framework of delegation in a church committed to making disciples.