The Journey with Ron Moore

If you are alive, sooner or later, you will run into the buzz saw of conflict. Some people visit the land of conflict occasionally. Others seem to make the land of conflict their permanent residence.

Let’s begin with a biblical foundation. What does the Bible say about conflict?

  1. My sinful nature is the source of conflict.

I always want to blame others for the clashes I have at home or work. And certainly it takes two to battle. But James reminds me that I am the source of conflict in my life.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

-James 4:1-3

Convicting, isn’t it? James says that whenever there is conflict I have skin in the game. Whenever there is conflict I have to own up to my part in it.

  1. I need to own up to my part in the conflict.

Remember Jesus’ “Plank in the Eye” story. He asked, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). He pointed out the hypocrisy of focusing on the issues of others (their sawdust) while refusing to deal with our personal issues (our plank). It’s kind of like pointing out a bread crumb on your wife’s lip when you have a long string of cheese dangling on your chin from your French Onion soup (that’s why I don’t eat that stuff). Here is an important conflict principle to accept: it is never entirely the other person’s fault.

  1. A worshiper in conflict is a conflicted worshiper.

Remember Jesus’ “Conflicted Worshiper” story. He said if you are in a significant act of worship and remember that you are in conflict with a significant person in your life, then you should stop worshipping. Jesus said, “First go and be reconciled to your  [husband/wife/child/parent/friend]; then come and offer your gift [of worship]” (Matthew 5:24). How our lives and our worship would change if we actually obeyed this instruction!

 

Remember, conflict starts with you. Until you are willing to deal with you…you can’t begin effectively deal with others.

In their book, Leaders: The Strategies of Taking Charge, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus explain this important principle as “empowerment.”

[Leaders] empower others to translate intention into reality and sustain it. This does not mean that leaders must relinquish power, or that followers must continually challenge authority. It does mean that power must become a unit of exchange—an active, changing token in creative, productive, and communicative transactions. Effective leaders will ultimately reap the human harvest of their efforts by the simple action of power’s reciprocal: empowerment.  

The essential thing in organizational leadership is that the leader’s style pulls rather than pushes people on. A pull style of influence works by attracting and energizing people to an exciting vision of the future. It motivates by identification, rather than through rewards and punishments.[1]

For people to “translate intention into reality and sustain it,” they must fully understand the job you are asking them to do and the parameters in which they can work.

Here are six important steps in the process of delegation.

  1. Explain the vision.

Paint the big picture. Explain how the “part” you are asking a person to do fits into the “whole.” There are many mundane aspects in every task. But people are energized when they know they are involved in “an exciting vision of the future.”

  1. Define the task.

What exactly are you asking the person to do? Leaders often get frustrated when people don’t get a certain thing done. Then they find out the person had no idea what they were supposed to do. Failure to define the task results an incomplete job or a person taking on much more than you intended.

  1. Explain the goal.

What should the outcome look like? How long should it take to get it done?

  1. Establish the standards of measurement.

How will progress be measured? How will you hold those pursuing the task accountable?

  1. Set a time frame.

If you are delegating a project, work with the person to establish a time line and completion date. If you are delegating ministry, give a start and stop date.

  1. Establish “check-in” dates.

Set time to meet in order to evaluate progress and provide support. Delegation is not abdication. The leader is still involved in the process and finally responsible for the outcome.

 


[1] Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. Leaders: The Strategies For Taking Charge (Harper and Row: New York, 1985) 80.

Leaders know that delegation is essential to the development of their team and organization. Leaders know that empowering the right person to accomplish a significant task with the appropriate direction, support, and accountability allows for real and lasting impact. Leaders know that no one person has all the needed gifts to do effective ministry. So, why do some leaders refuse to entrust meaningful assignments to others?

I believe there are six reasons:

  1. An unhealthy need for control.

The need to have your fingerprint on everything in your ministry is one of the chief barriers in delegation. The fear of losing authority is a disease that sucks the life out of a team and organization.

  1.  Perfectionism.

Perfectionists hinder the development of all who serve with them. Perfectionists have to be involved in every task because no one can do it better than them (or so they think).  One writer well says, “[Being a perfectionist] will make you a very small leader and your leadership a very small thing.”[1]

  1. An unhealthy need for success.

Some leaders are afraid to delegate because they are afraid that someone will do a better job than them. Can you allow others to be more successful than you? A good leader will have many successful partners in ministry.

  1. Personal insecurity.

Insecure leaders strangle teams. You cannot lead out of fear.

  1. An inability to trust others.

If you cannot trust others, you will constantly be meddling in what you have assigned. This will cause frustration and discouragement. In most cases, your inability to trust will cause others to quit working with you.

  1. An unwillingness to invest the time.

How often have you heard, “It’s faster to do it myself.” Delegation requires an initial investment in order to enjoy the future return. Many find it easier to “do it myself.” It may be easier at first, but over the long haul, an unwillingness to make the time investment makes for a small leader with a small ministry.

 


[1] William Lawrence. D.Min class notes from The Ministry Leader.

Delegation is a leadership must. It provides empowerment and ownership to those on our team. Delegation is not passing off unwanted chores.  Rather, it takes place when a leader empowers the right person to accomplish a significant task with the appropriate direction, support, and accountability.

Here are seven benefits to delegation that I’ve learned over the years.

Benefits of Delegation

  1. Delegation opens opportunities.

No one person has all the gifts needed for effective ministry. Leaders who have to have their hands in every facet of ministry will strangle the life out of a team. Delegation gives people the opportunity to use their gifts, training, skills, and experiences in significant ways.  

  1. Delegation provides an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Having the responsibility of a significant task and the accountability of a team stretches us spiritually. When we know others are depending on us, we depend more on God.

  1. Delegation provides an opportunity to develop skills.

No person has perfectly honed skills (although many people think they do). There is always room to develop. Delegation, done right, challenges people to grow and gives them the room to do so.

  1. Delegation produces teamness throughout ministry.

After all the vision casting and inspiring speeches are over, people don’t get on board unless they have a dog in the race. Delegation turns critical spectators (yes, even those on our teams can be critical spectators) into producing players.

  1. Delegation expands the impact of ministry.

At the end of the day, the impact of ministry is dependent upon the breadth of the team. If you are a team of one (in reality or practice) your ministry will be stifled by you.

  1. Delegation expands ownership in a ministry.

An effective team does not have members; it has stakeholders. Members are like fans in the stands. Stakeholders are players on the field. They understand their attitude and production impacts the whole team and the outcome of the game.

  1. Delegation shows trust.

Trust is essential for effective delegation. When I don’t trust a person or when I feel like I have lost trust in a person, I can’t give them significant tasks. If I do, I will constantly be meddling in their work. Delegation doesn’t work unless there is mutual trust. People who know they have the leaders trust also has the freedom exceed expectations.

Delegation is one of the leader’s most important activities. It does not entail passing off unwanted chores. Neither does it involve passing off “busy work.” Delegation takes place when a leader empowers the right person to accomplish a significant task with the appropriate direction, support, and accountability. Theodore Roosevelt said it this way, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

The act and art of delegation occurs throughout Scripture, but the biblical “classic” is found in the second book of the Bible.  In Exodus, Moses served as the sole judge in the land with a backlog of cases. The people “stood around him from morning till evening” awaiting a verdict.  Finally, Moses father-in-law, Jethro, intervened with a plan:

Exodus 18:17-23  

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “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.  Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.  Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.  But 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.” Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.  He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

 

This passage contains seven delegation principles.

  1. It took another person’s help for Moses to see his need.

Moses was in one of those “can’t see the forest for the trees” times of life. It took his father-in-law to point out the fact that Moses was hurting himself and the people by trying to be a one-man-band. Thankfully, Moses listened to wise counsel.

  1. Ministry is “too heavy” for one person to do.

The ministry tasks that each of us must accomplish are varied. They range from pastoral to process; from teaching to technology. There is no way that one person can effectively carry out the demands of ministry. By ourselves, our ministry will be second rate and/or we will wear ourselves out.

  1. Determine your “Must Do’s”.

Each of us has our “must do’s”, “can do’s”, and “can’t do’s”. Determining our “must do’s” is a critical discovery. Like Moses, you may need some help determining what you cannot give up. Moses could not delegate the responsibility of being the people’s representative before God and teaching them the decrees and law (18:19-20). No one else could function in those two roles. Unfortunately for Moses, the strain of judging (his “can-do”) took away from his “must do” responsibilities. Serving as a judge was very important, but it was a secondary task for Moses.

  1. Find capable people.

Moses had to find capable men that met appropriate standards for carrying out the duties of a judge. They were to be “men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain” (18:21). The art of delegation is finding the right people to carry out the task.

Over the years, I have caused much trouble for myself by delegating important tasks to the wrong person. Instead of lightening the load, this leadership mistake makes life miserable. Here are some things to always keep in mind when looking for the right people.

  • Spiritual Gifts. Does a person have the right gift mix for the ministry opportunity?
  • Never give people tasks they cannot do or tasks you are unsure they can do. Make certain individuals have proven faithful in “entry-level” ministries. Then you can consider opportunities that are more significant.
  • A person may have the gifts and ability but not the maturity. It will be tempting to go ahead and give the person the task. This decision, however, will come back to haunt you.
  • Gifts, abilities, and experience without commitment will result in a job poorly done…if done at all.
  1. Give appropriate authority and direction.

Moses appointed capable men as “officials” giving them the authority to carry out their job. Nothing is more frustrating than having a job to do but no authority to get it done. Moses explained to them the scope of their responsibilities. They were to serve as “judges for the people at all time.” And while not explicitly stated in the text, we can be sure that Moses carried out his “must-do” teaching responsibility to train them for the challenging work of being a judge.

  1. Give appropriate support.

The newly selected judges were to be empowered with the authority and trust to try the simple cases. But Moses did not abdicate the responsibility. The new judges were to bring difficult cases to him. Again, one can only assume that with more and more experience, these capable men handled more and more cases on their own.

  1. Refusal to delegate causes us and others to suffer.

The people coming to Moses needed a decision. Certainly, they did not enjoy standing from morning till evening and then being told, “Come back tomorrow.” When things aren’t done or are done poorly because we refuse to delegate, everyone suffers. However, when delegation takes place “you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied” (18:23).

Some time ago, I was emailed a page of “wise sayings” … Well, sort of. A first grade teacher collected them over the years. She gave her classes part of an old “proverb” and let them fill in the rest. Following are some I thought you might enjoy. Remember these are first graders.

As you shall make your bed so shall you … mess it up.

Better be safe than … punch a fifth grader.

Strike while the … bug is close.

Don’t bite the hand that looks dirty.

A miss is as good as a Mr.

You can’t teach an old dog new … math.

A penny saved is … not much.

It’s always darkest before … Daylight Savings Time.

You can lead a horse to water but how?

Children should be seen and not spanked or grounded.

If at first you don’t succeed … get new batteries.

Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and … you have to blow your nose.

As much as we enjoy the wisdom of children let me encourage you to move beyond these first grade “proverbs” to a portion of Scripture specifically designed to give godly wisdom for godly living-the Book of Proverbs. At the beginning of his writing, the author, Solomon, clearly states that the purpose of his proverbs are: for attaining wisdom and for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life … for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance … The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs I:2-7).

In this day who doesn’t need wisdom, understanding, discretion, and prudence?

Eugene Peterson well says that the Proverbs give us the skills we need “in honoring our parents and raising our children, handling our money and conducting our sexual lives, going to work and exercising leadership, using words well and treating friends kindly, eating and drinking healthily, cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes towards others that make for peace. Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do.”

I encourage you to read the Proverbs. Read them privately. The thirty-one chapters make for a nice chapter-a-day reading throughout the month. Before you read ask God to open your heart to the truth of His Word. Keep a pencil and paper close by. Some of the proverbs will jump from the page and attach themselves to a particular area of your life. Read them publicly. How about reading a chapter with your husband or wife at the beginning or end of the day? Looking something to read during your family devotions? Selected (and age-appropriate) Proverbs are great for family instruction and discussion. Read Proverbs and gain God’s instruction for down-to-earth godly living.

Many believers wait for a big movement of God. They wait for the church or even the government to initiate needed change. But the Bible and history shows that change is not brought about by one person. It takes place one person at a time.

Long before Luther drew up his 95 Theses, John Huss led a great revival in Prague. The revival was later forced underground by persecution. Huss was burned at the stake. Due to Huss’ great sacrifice, an underground church existed in central Europe. The Gospel was passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, and grandparent to grandchild—one person at a time.

Finally, these believers found refuge in Germany. They were called Moravians by this point and provided the spark for revivals in Germany, Holland, the Scandinavian countries, France, Switzerland, England and America. It was Moravian missionaries who spoke to John Wesley about a personal relationship with Christ on a ship headed to America.

So, many years before Luther, true believers were active throughout Germany. All along God had been preparing his people for the great Reformation.[1]

Change does not depend on one person, but one person at a time. Don’t wait on that “One Person.” Be the person that passes the Gospel along from person to person and impact generations.

 


[1] Richards, L., & Richards, L.O. (1987). The Teachers Commentary (545-546). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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