The Fine Art of Delegation

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I messed up last week! It was a classic case of poor delegation!

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Here’s what happened. I told Reed, 14, that I’d pay him to prune the bushes in our yard. Since he was eager to get started the next day and it was late, I cut a few fronds off the top to show him how much to take off. Then I waved my hand around the bush and told him the rule of thumb is to never cut away more than one-third of the bush.

Next day…I’m on the way home and call him to check in. “Is it OK if the bushes are knee-high?” That was the first sign of trouble. Between my appointment and having to grab Abby to register her for soccer, I got a firsthand look at the much-changed bushes. It made my stomach hurt…and the only word I could think of was “demolished.” (It was good I was getting out of there lest I say what was on my mind.) Once I was home again, I vacillated between “it’s not your fault” and “oh my gosh!” Poor Reed!

The next day…I owned that I didn’t delegate well. And that he’s 14 and had never done this before. If I’d had it to do over, I would’ve modeled for him by completely pruning one of the bushes. Then I would’ve helped him prune another bush. Once I was confident that he understood, I would’ve released him. But I didn’t do this and this was a classic example of poor delegation.

So has this ever happened to you? Maybe with VBS decor or a big outreach event? You delegate quickly, walk away, and then you finally see what your volunteers are working on…and you’re shocked and appalled. Before you say the things that jump to your mind, step away and figure out if you truly provided the best delegation possible. Own your part too! And, like a friend said, know that nothing’s fatal…bushes do grow back…and usually things in ministry do too!

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About Author

Christine Yount Jones

Christine has more than 26 years of children’s ministry experience. She is the Executive Editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine, has authored many books and articles on children’s ministry, and serves as co-director of the KidMin Conference. She’s responsible for development and innovation of new resources.

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For more great articles like this, subscribe to our magazine, Children's Ministry Magazine.