Pastoral ministry can be overwhelming, especially with the limited resource of time. That’s why it’s so tempting to begin delegating things that are difficult but essential for the pastor to do. Matt Judkins lists off 5 things that pastors should never delegate, no matter how tempting it may be.
In June, I began a new appointment, and It hasn’t taken long to realize that there are simply too many things to do in any given week. Each time I have found myself in a situation like this, I am reminded of the wisdom of others who tell the story of Moses’ father-in-law, who also happened to be the Priest of Midian.
“Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing isn’t good. You will end up totally wearing yourself out, both you and these people who are with you. The work is too difficult for you. You can’t do it alone.” Exodus 18:17-18 (CEB)
The wisdom of delegation is essential for effective ministry and necessary to encourage the gifts of the body of Christ. At the same time, there are a few things that a pastor should never, ever delegate.
A pastor should never delegate these five things, even if it is tempting.
1) Being a Servant
In the visible role we have as pastors and leaders, sometimes it is tempting to think we are above certain menial tasks. After all, if I put out chairs on Sunday morning, won’t it take away an easy place for others to serve Christ? Should the janitor be expected to vacuum my office? After all, we can rationalize, I’m too busy studying God’s word, counseling God’s people, and doing the “real work” of ministry. It is impossible to do the ministry of Jesus, without modeling the servanthood of Jesus. The same Jesus who washed the feet of the disciples demonstrates doing the humble work we might be tempted to shun.
2) Knowing people’s names
When we serve churches that have additional staff, sometimes we simply don’t know the congregation as well as they do. It can be easy to rationalize this as well. I’m not good with names. What is important is that they’re “known by someone.” Pastoral ministry should never hesitate to do the hard work of trying to have a personal relationship with those we are called to shepherd spiritually.
3) Devotional commitment to Christ
We often hear this, but it is too important to forget. One cannot delegate the hard, but essential, work of prayer and extended time in God’s word to others within the congregation. After all, as the author Parker Palmer once expressed, we teach who we are. The content we share is important, but it must come from a place of authentic personal devotion.
4) Caring for our families
No matter how faithful the pastor’s husband or wife might be in caring for their family and leading them spiritually, no matter how good the congregation’s program of children and youth, there is nothing that will replace being personally invested in your children and family’s lives, spiritually and otherwise. For me, this means spending time with my kids at bedtime, as often as possible, teaching them to pray and asking them questions about the faith.
We can easily fall back on relying on the congregation’s financial giving, but it is essential that we refuse to delegate personal, sacrificial giving. There have been times in my life where I haven’t been faithful in this area, and almost always it has been evidence of a deeper spiritual issues. We are not exempt from giving, no matter what our salary might be and no matter how generous our congregation is.
Don’t get me wrong. I would encourage you to delegate. It is naive and arrogant to think you are good at every task in the life of the congregation. Even if you are one of those rare individuals who are good at lots of different tasks, it is important to share ministry with the people of God. However, there are many things that are simply too important to delegate.
Can you think of any others you might add to this list?