Reflections on Chapter 18 of Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders.

The art of delegation is often seen as the ability to get someone else to do the things you don’t want to do. If you are a Mark Twain fan you think of Tom Sawyer and the fence that he was supposed to whitewash. If you are not familiar, I feel sorry for you and would encourage you to read the book. (You could probably do a web search and get the gist of it, but I’d still sorry for you until you read the book.)

Let me clarify. Although many think getting out of a task they find is distasteful this is the paramount “the why” behind delegation, it is not. 

I’m certainly no expert but I’d like to offer a few insights. One thing delegation allows is for others to “buy into the business”. Years ago, I was told of the business plan of a very successful poultry operation. In the barns the employees were not paid by the hour, they were paid by the production of the laying hens. So, the better the hens produced, the more money each worker in that barn made. To those workers those hens were much more than dumb, smelly birds. The health and welfare of each bird in the barn directly affected their income; directly, and they knew it. In addition, they were not just the boss’s dumb, smelly birds. To a degree each worker had “bought into the business.” The barn workers did not treat the birds or any other condition in the barn flippantly – it all mattered to them and it mattered directly.

Delegation allows the accomplishment of more. When we think of the realms of standard warfare, we don’t send just one soldier to the battlefield and the reasons are obvious. One combatant can’t stop an army. In the arenas of team sports coaches work diligently in finding and assigning players best suited to the particular position. Given to each role is a particular and often definite title. Furthermore, a specific job description and training is formulated. All of this is done with the goal of winning, of accomplishing more.

When the New Testament church is considered it should be known that it was never intended to be a one man show. Neither was it intended to develop into a system of rigidly defined laity and clergy. Certainly, there are roles to which God calls individuals that are definitely different from others; but each believer is also called to serve the kingdom in “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

Paul writes to the Ephesians concerning this structure, “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.” (4:11) Then follows that statement with an adamant explanation, “for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (4:12 HCSB). One of the key functions for the those called into the defined roles is to “train” others “in the work of ministry.” The goal is to empower and engage everyone possible in the work. It should go without saying that the result will not be that everyone will do the same exact thing in the same exact way. Delegation will maintain and even sustain diversity. And, that’s a good thing. This approach enables a diverse work force, unified in love and commitment to Christ, to accomplish more in every imaginable task for The Kingdom of Christ. 

For those who think delegation is for the lazy, you are mistaken. Delegation will keep you busy; but done correctly it will be more productive.