What’s Your Excuse?
By Rory Noland
Q: I love leading worship at my church, but I’m constantly overwhelmed by all the emails, phone calls, meetings, charting, copying, and scheduling. Can you help me?
A: How about if you make that last question your mantra for the next few months? Identify three tasks that someone other than you could do, go to your most dependable volunteers, and ask, “Can you help me with these?” At your next rehearsal, present those three tasks and ask for help. I’ve taken both approaches over the years and just about every time, someone has stepped up, but only after I asked for help.
Every leadership book I’ve read stresses the importance of delegation. It’s even in the Bible (see Ex 18:3-26). Delegation is a simple concept, yet many leaders fail to share the workload. Let’s examine the four most common excuses for neglecting this important facet of leadership.
I can’t delegate because I’m the only one who can do these things.
While there are a few prime directives that only you can do, there are still plenty of jobs others can (and should) help you carry out. There’s no reason why you and you alone should be answering all those emails, making all those phone calls, leading every meeting, doing all the charting, copying, and scheduling.
Sometimes this excuse arises from deep-seated insecurity. We hold on to a job or role because there’s a certain amount of prestige attached to it. Doing it makes us feel good about ourselves. We may also fear that someone else might do the job better, making us look inferior. An example would be the worship leader who never allows anyone else to lead. However, healthy self-esteem is not found in what we do, but who we are in Christ. Instead of being a “one-man show,” Scripture implores us to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”—to give others meaningful ministry opportunities and help them flourish at it (Eph 4:12).
I can’t delegate because I have no one to help me.
It may very well be that you have not because you ask not (Jas 4:2b). Also, if you’re not in the habit of delegating, you may have inadvertently created a spectator culture, where everyone stands around watching you do all the work. If that’s the case, it may take several pleas for assistance before you have any takers.
I know a worship leader who used to spend two hours every week, all alone, setting up band equipment for rehearsal. When he finally asked for help, two band members offered to come straight to rehearsal from work to help. They grabbed dinner on the way and, over time, setting up before rehearsal became a very meaningful time of fellowship for all three of them.
I can’t delegate because I don’t have time to teach anyone else how to do what I do.
Some leaders fail to delegate because the thought of teaching someone else to perform a task seems like too much trouble. They conclude that it’s easier to do everything themselves, especially if they want it done right.
While it’s true that delegating demands a certain investment of time at the beginning, my experience is that it quickly pays off. The time I got back and was able to invest elsewhere was well worth the initial investment.
I can’t delegate because I’m afraid of looking weak, lazy, or incapable.
One leader told me, “My pastor won’t allow me to delegate. He expects me to do it all.” When I asked him whether his pastor actually came out and said that, he replied, “No, he doesn’t have to. It’s one of the unwritten rules of our denomination.” In spite of this man’s insistence, I strongly urged him to meet with his pastor and ask him whether his perception was true. To his surprise, he found out that his pastor was a strong proponent of delegating and wanted to see more volunteers involved at every level of their ministry. Be sure to check out all “urban legends” regarding your pastor and/or denomination before assuming they’re true.
Delegating is the first step to managing your ministry more effectively. Next time, I’ll share some practical ways to address those nagging administrative needs.
For more on Rory Noland, visit heartoftheartist.org.