Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Delegation - It is Not about You

Often we see delegation as a necessary evil, something that can help us reduce our workload. Of course we want things done right, so we're eager to farm out the tedious and basic tasks. However, there's so much more to, and like so much else, it turns out to be about people and relationships.

My current course at Rockbridge Seminary is on Building a Small Group Ministry. We were asked to study and comment on Exodus 18:13-27. That's the passage where Moses' father-in-law Jethro points out he is overworked and need to delegate the task of being a judge to leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. If you've not read it, go and read it now, I'll wait... the passage is a wonderful demonstration of the benefits of delegation and having teams. And yet as I look at this particular passage with fresh eyes today, there's something even more powerful at work here.

Most people see this as promoting delegation as a solution to the problem of Moses being overworked. I see this as promoting the development of leaders as a means of vastly improving the sharing and understanding of vision, and of helping people to grow in an exponential fashion! It's easy to see Moses' problem, he is worn out. But this is also very much the people's problem: "they stood around him [doing nothing] from morning until evening". Here we see a potential army of people who see themselves merely as recipients of ministry from the sole leader. (Does this sound familiar??) The solution is to turn the audience into an army.

For those leaders of ten and fifty, what impact will it have in their lives to be challenged and empowered to hear disputes of people? When they are taught the word of God, how much more will they listen, now that they are directly responsible for applying His word to life? Those who actually do well at this and display God's wisdom may become leaders of hundreds or even thousands. The average person who diligently hears and applies God's word now can aspire to become a leader of ten. By bringing the difficult cases up the chain to Moses, you get accountability and even greater teaching opportunities! The growth potential for the people is amazing. In addition to this, the person hungry for more of God's word need not spend all day (or wait to have a dispute) to have access to the head honcho. Instead he'll have a relationship with someone who has a span of care of five to ten leaders - someone who is committed to helping them learn and make the best decisions possible. For 5000 people you get 655 leaders - that's 13% of the people, and everyone else is within a span of care of ten. It's hard to imagine a better biblical example of the case for small group coaches and team-based ministry.

And oh, as a side benefit, Moses can get home earlier for dinner with his family!

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