Churches implicitly and unknowingly place expectations on their pastors, an unspoken expectation that at the end of the day they must do whatever is needed. And even if the church doesn’t communicate this, some pastors have control issues and are convinced that doing everything themselves will ensure it is all done well.
We all know that a single individual cannot make a church function properly, efficiently, and faithfully, regardless of their gifts. Yet too often, pastors ignore this truth and fail to delegate responsibilities to others, leading to a joyless existence and eventual burnout from the ministry.
It was never God’s design that the pastor would bear all the administrative responsibility. From the beginning, God intended that the tasks and responsibilities of ministry would require a team effort. (See Exodus 18:13-23, Nehemiah 4:15-20, 1 Chronicles 24:1-5.)
Although God demonstrates several examples of delegation as a fruitful functionality among God’s people, Israel, the best example for us as pastors is captured in the book of Acts, where we see the apostles build and establish the early church. Throughout the process, the need to organize, administrate, and delegate responsibilities to meet all the needs before them continued to grow. In one instance, widows were being neglected. Here is the solution the apostles put forward:
Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:1–7 NASB)
You can see here a prototype of what would later become the two New Testament church offices of pastors and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1–13). This story shows the functionality of the early church and how it was able to effectively delegate responsibilities and tasks to meet needs and to care for God’s people. The apostles didn’t try to avoid their responsibilities and conclude, “Well, I guess I just have to pray less and cut back on the ministry of the word to take care of this need.” Nor did they say, “Well, praying is more important, and it’s where my time should be spent, so I guess we should just keep praying for these neglected widows and hope the government will step in.”
In a moment of divine providence, the apostles realized their calling was not to go meet that need but to ensure the need was met. They organized the appointment of faithful, godly men to carry it out. Not just any random men, but seven particular men “of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3)—seven men called to the ministry of caring for widows in the same way the apostles felt called to their ministry of prayer and the word. And as the narrative unfolds, we can see the results of this clever and wise structure: “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (6:7).
This is just one of many examples that show how essential it is to delegate responsibilities and tasks in the local church to gifted and qualified people. Note that these decisions were made in the name of shepherding the people of God in need. Wise and discerning delegation allows church leaders to most effectively meet these needs. Yet an important question in light of this is, “How does a pastor know to whom he should delegate?” The best answer is the simplest one: those he trains and prepares for the task.
— Brian Croft and Bryce Butler, Oversee God’s People. Read more of this book for practical guidance in training up and shepherding others on your church staff.
How to Use This Book
Oversee God’s People will equip pastors for effective administration and leadership. “This is a book every seminary professor must require and every pastor or pastor-in-training must read,” says author Bob Kellemen. “It offers a rare blending of shepherding and administrating— where both are seen as the relational calling of every pastor.”
Get Oversee God’s People and the other six books in the Practical Shepherding Series for one low price: the Practical Shepherding Series Complete Set. This set includes everything you need to be equipped to lead and serve in all aspects of your ministry.