Coaching Professional Church Workers is one of the most rewarding careers on the planet! I’m profoundly inspired by the deep dedication Christian leaders have for God and His people. I am also amazed at the selfless determination Christians have to fulfill their call to bless people for whom Christ died. Although Christian ministry is rewarding, it is also often stressful.
My question is this: Can we do ministry better? Is it possible to serve Christ and be filled with optimistic hope at the same time? Is it possible to work in such a way that our efforts produce a crop “yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:23)?
I say “Yes!”
Moses was one of the most important and impressive people who ever lived. He was the one through whom God communicated His Ten Commandments; Moses led Israel from the enslavement of the Egyptians to the Promised Land; Moses was the one that wrote down the words of the Torah; and Moses demonstrated greatness in other countless ways!
Yet Moses, at one time, tried to do everything himself. He was the one-man educational and judicial system for a community of millions. He would listen to every single issue, complaint, and problem a wandering nation of millions ever had. And Moses was at the edge of his ability to cope. If things didn’t change, Moses would soon become so emotionally and physically depleted he would be of no use to anyone.
Along comes Jethro, his father-in-law. “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17). Moses, one of the greatest figures of the Old Testament, was being taught by this Priest of Midian how to multiply his ministry. In business and in non-profit organizations, this is called delegating.
Jethro said: “select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied” (Exodus 18:21-23).
OK, so we’ve heard this before. Delegate, raise up additional leaders, recruit and train and deploy. Great. Frankly, it’s easier to do the work myself!
Jethro is NOT teaching Principles of Organizational Management
What’s really going on in Exodus 18 is the start of a reformation of the way God and His people interact. If we fast-forward to the time of Jeremiah, we read the prophecy that promises what God will yet do (31:33-34), ““I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.”
Delegating is GREAT!
When we delegate as we should, great things happen for leaders AND among those we lead. As with Moses, when we learn to effectively delegate, our capacity to fulfill our call becomes possible. And, the people to whom we delegate find joy and fulfillment. Afterall, people were created to contribute and make a difference. When we can’t for whatever reason, we are slightly diminished as a person. Additionally, by delegating, more gets done, more people are served and we realize greater advancement toward our goals. All good!
Delegating isn’t enough!
Delegating is exceedingly powerful, but there’s something even better. Partnership.
Which is better, being given responsibility or being asked to join a partnership? A partner has “ownership” in the organization. A partner transitions from someone to whom we delegate labor to a stakeholder, someone who has ownership. That’s a very powerful transition!
God calls His people into partnership, an infinitely powerful relationship. Christian ministry is best built in partnership with people in the Church. Effective delegating empowers people to greatly expand the ministry. But God calls us into partnership with His Son. He makes us heirs, co-workers with Jesus. God refers to us as His children; sons and daughters in the family business, co-heirs with Christ, partners in the Gospel, fellow laborers (along with Paul, Peter, James, John, and the other Apostles, Disciples, Evangelists, Teachers, every first-century Christian through whom God established His Church).
When Christian leaders lead by inviting people into partnership with themselves as leaders and co-leaders in Christ, they are leading as Moses learned to lead and they are fulfilling, in part, the prophecy of Jeremiah 31: “they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” Moses’ activity of delegating was the prelude to what God was fleshing out in Jeremiah (which reached its greatest expression at Pentecost). This is the foundation of God’s earnest desire for all His people, partnership with Christ.
By empowering others as God has empowered you as leader, you deeply impact those you lead. Your investment in their lives will create a ripple effect throughout their lives that will continue into the next seven generations (at least). This is the ministry to which the Christian leader has been called.
Dr. Phil Pledger is The Higher Calling Coach and writes Christian Leadership Matters blog each week. Christian Leadership Matters is a weekly blog that seeks to help Professional Church Workers discover and enhance the leadership skills needed to make positive changes in their lives and in the ministry with which they are connected. As “The Higher Calling Coach,” Dr. Pledger helps Professional Church Workers and the ministries they serve find new ways to meet challenges, overcome roadblocks, and to find joy in serving Christ and His Church.
If you don’t want to miss his blog posts, sign up for his newsletter at: www.TheHigherCallingCoach.com. Email Coach Phil at: Phil@TheHigherCallingCoach.com if you would like to set up a no-cost/no-obligation consultation or would like to ask a question.