In my book From Postlude to Prelude: Music Ministry’s Other Six Days, I discuss working with volunteers and the art of delegation. I believe that you should delegate responsibilities that (1) someone can do better than you, (2) someone can do instead of you, (3) someone can do with better timing, and (4) will help someone else grow and develop as a leader. As I manage both teaching and a music ministry position, I frequently visit these four points to see if I am utilizing others and their skills and abilities appropriately. Let’s begin by unpacking each of these more fully:
Someone can do it instead of you – As a minister, if you are able to do everything related to your ministry, perhaps your vision is too small. Our dreams for ministry should always exceed our energy and time. We must simply learn to give away ministry to others. Otherwise, our ministry is landlocked by our inability to involve others meaningfully.
Someone can do it with better timing than you – Often you could do the job if you had the time between now and the time it is due to; however, with all else that is going on, you are unable to give the time and energy that is required within the given time frame. To allow someone else to do this job allows the work of ministry to flourish while you are meaningfully occupied elsewhere.
Someone else can grow as a leader – It is always our privilege to cultivate leadership in others. Leaders grow through being allowed to be leaders. Everyone deserves an opportunity to practice their leadership skills, and we should consider giving responsibilities to others in order to offer them an opportunity to develop and grow in their leadership.
In order to involve others meaningfully, we must first move beyond the idea that we either must do everything because it is our job or that others will not be able to accomplish a task as well as we. As musicians, we are often perfectionists, and we believe that we can do many tasks better than others. However, even if we can, there is no excuse for diminishing their gifts and limiting their scope of ministry.
At other times, we are afraid that asking others to help will give the impression that we are not doing our job well and earning our keep. While this can be a valid concern, when others see that you are working diligently, most often you will not have to ask others to assist; they will offer themselves in service. How is it that we assure that others will do the job well and accomplish the task on time? Following are a few suggestions:.
Define the parameters for its completion – When should it be complete, what is the budget, whomelse should be involved, what is its priority level, how often would you like reports, etc.? Give the person the authority to make decisions – Without giving authority, the person to whom you’ve delegated the job will not be empowered and will not fully own the process. You must then accept the reality that the job will not be completed as you would have done it..
Define the responsibility – Define what is to be done. Be sure that the person to whom you’ve delegated the task knows exactly what he/she is to do. You should write a definition of what is be done and follow up with verbal instructions. Allow plenty of time for questions..
Let it go – While you should have built in certain check points into the process, you must let the job go. If you constantly look over people’s shoulder, they will not be able to do their best work and you will not be able to do the work that you intended to accomplish by delegating!.
Check up – Although you’ve delegated the work to someone else, you have not delegated the responsibility. You are still responsible to see that the work is accomplished. It is better to build in normal check up times from the beginning instead of doing random checks..
Evaluate – Once the task is complete, take time to evaluate. Evaluating assures the person that you value his her contribution and input..
Express gratitude – Always express gratitude for work that is done. Even when it’s not done according to your specifications, be grateful for someone’s attempt. Give praise for work that succeeds, and share responsibility for work that is less than desirable.
In Closing Leadership is always about the task of multiplying oneself and cultivating leadership in others. Happiness and fulfillment are often determined by how meaningfully involved we are in what we value most. Who are some people in whom you can invest by allowing them opportunities? What are some tasks that others can do as well or better than you? How can you give these away? What jobs no longer give you joy? Is there someone in your circle for whom this job would be meaningful? Spend some time in meaningful reflection about your ability to involve others.