Delegation is the sometimes painful process of making people great.

  • When you don’t delegate … you keep your team marginalized.
  • If you want to make great leaders, delegate great big stuff to them.
  • A good delegator pushes people just beyond what they are comfortable with.
  • Sometimes people fail when you delegate. Be ready for that.
  • A good delegator picks up the pieces.
  • Want your interns to have a good experience? Let them run with something huge.
  • Good luck finding a successor – make a successor instead.
  • It is always easier to do something yourself than delegate it. But it isn’t the right thing to do.
  • Delegate stuff you love to do. Those are the hardest to hand-off.
  • Delegate stuff you aren’t good at. Find someone who is. Everyone wins.
  • Don’t just delegate the piddly stuff. You need to do some small things

Delegation is tough … but so worth it. Go make people great today!


Yesterday my friend Matt McGill was talking about delegation to volunteer youth leaders and said something that really stuck with me:  you need to delegate until it stings. Love it!

  • Delegate: when you could do it better
  • Delegate: when you know someone will fail and need coaching
  • Delegate: when it is easier to just do it yourself
  • Delegate: the little stuff
  • Delegate: the big stuff
  • Delegate: the things you’re not good at
  • Delegate: the things you’re the best at
  • Delegate: the things you love
  • Delegate: the things you hate
  • Delegate: something that will really challenge/develop the other person
  • Delegate: until it stings


Over the last little while, I’ve been watching a certain search engine company trying to become all things to all people. They seem to have their hands into everything these days. I think they’ve even announced their own tablet, not to be confused with the other 100 or so coming onto the market.

I observe that that they have shown themselves to be really good at a few things. A dynamic search engine that rose to the top of the heap (sorry, Yahoo! and Bing), a web browser that got to the core of the browsing experience (get me there fast and don’t crash), and a svelte email service that became synonymous with getting the job done (no, Hotmail, I don’t want more spam) … but then it starts to become a slippery slope. We could around and around on what would be deemed successful for this company, as we each have our likes and dislikes when it comes to all things computing, but I think we could agree that there have been some things they’ve done that have been mediocre at best (Google+), and some that have thankfully slipped into the dark abyss of computing history (*cough* Google Wave *cough*). Not that these didn’t have the potential to be great, they just were problematic from the start due to any number of reasons, from lack of interest beyond early adopters to an idea that’s being done better by someone else.

Now, if you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you’ve probably worked hard at the things you’re good at, and figured out how to hand off the things you are weak at, or at least suffer through doing them anyway. You want to be known for your roaring successes and have your train wreck mistakes become lost to the ages. That’s totally normal. We want people to see that we’re capable and willing and eager and full of energy and ingenuity. Basically, we want our congregation to know that we have the “right stuff.” In that space, we are sometimes willing to take on much more than we can chew. We become a jack of all trades, but master of none. And that’s where the trouble can come in.

When you were hired on, or signed up as a volunteer, you were probably eager to show your skill set. You had a number of responsibilities and you sought to do those well. But then, things started to get added to the miscellaneous category of your job description. Perhaps you were saddled with more responsibility than you started with because no one else wanted the task, maybe staffing changes required you to take more into your portfolio, or perhaps you thought you could handle more, or you felt you needed to be challenged more, or any other number of reasons. You know your own story.

Just like G**gle should know, it’s about being selective and running hard with what you’re best at. The challenge is all about knowing yourself. Knowing your capabilities and your capacities. Knowing what you rock at, and knowing what will fall apart if you come near it. There are times and places to test the waters and see if there’s something new within your capacity, but know going in that you don’t need to be all things to all people. It can be a very freeing statement, and will allow you to press into who God has created you to be. I know this first hand; I know that I was made for student ministry. And that has made all the difference.

Kevin Downey currently carries the baton for youth ministry at Chilliwack Alliance Church in Chilliwack, BC, Canada. he loves what he does, and thanks God every day for giving him his second wind. He tweets at @revkev73.


See You in 7

 —  March 30, 2012 — 4 Comments

I close each youth service with the phrase “See you in 7.” It reminds kids that our ministry is here every week for whatever they need and also lets them know I’m inviting, even expecting, them to make church part of their life and routine. Yet it’s also a sometimes-painful reminder to me that another service is right around the corner, no matter how this one turned out.

Creating a compelling youth service or meeting every week can feel weighty. Just as you collapse to recover from one, you have to prepare to do it all again. My team has been discussing a new strategy to get things accomplished with such short turnaround. Our services are on Saturdays and Sundays, so you may have to adjust the days below to fit your program.

“See you in 7″ falls from my smiling mouth to my ringing ears each week. But with the right preparation and goals, it’s an achievable task.

Delegate —What tasks do you need to dole out to ensure success? For that matter, what are you even doing next week? Make sure all the projects, videos, music, humor, and handouts have an owner; then be confident that people will follow through. Ideally, list program elements on a whiteboard so a few volunteers can start moving on their assignments. For me, as the primary communicator, Tuesday is an important day to get a jump-start on message preparation, too.


Do—This is the day to really accomplish things. Shoot the video. Buy prizes. Test out games. Whatever needs to happen for the weekend, do it on Wednesday. As I write this, a student is preparing a testimony to share, a volunteer is editing video, and my sermon draft is halfway complete.

Done—Today it all comes together. The student outline is finished, slides are made, videos are selected, handouts are copied, and anything that was ordered is ready to go. By the end of Thursday, the sermon is largely done and in the hands of a few trusted friends for review.


Dream—You must make space for greatness and creativity, so force yourself to finish things early instead of succumbing to the uncontrollable chaos of last-minute details. That cushion also allows you to work ahead a bit and be intentional about relational ministry.

Originally appeared in the November/December issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!

Creating a compelling and inspiring youth group service every week can feel like an impossible task by itself. If that wasn’t enough, as soon as you’re get done with it, you collapse in a heap for a day off and get ready to do it all over again in just a few short days. Defeating the weekend beast every week is no small task, and we’ve recently been discussing a new strategy to get things accomplished in such a short turnaround time. Our services are on Saturday and Sunday, so you may have to adjust the actual days to fit your context. Either way, here’s the new model we’re working from this season:

Delegation (Tuesday)
What are the tasks that need to be doled out to make sure our youth group meeting is a success? For that matter, what are we even doing this week? Make sure that all of the projects, videos, music, humor, handouts all have an owner – pass out tasks and be confident that your busy work on the front end will help things go smoothly in the end. I would love to see a program sheet and a bunch of people starting to move on their assignments at the end of the day.

Do (Wednesday)
This is the day to get things accomplished. Shoot the video. Buy the prizes. Test it out. Whatever needs to happen for the weekend, DO it on Wednesday. This week, I’ve got a student writing their testimony, a volunteer editing a video and a draft of my sermon coming along.

Done (Thursday)
Everything has to come together on Thursday. Get the bulletin done, the student outline finished, slides made, videos selected and ProPresenter setup. Handouts are copied, packets are made, anything that was ordered has arrived and is sorted, ready to go. By the end of Thursday I’d love for things not to just be dialed in but DONE. This week … well, that’s today, so hopefully I’ll get the sermon done and can followup on everything else that is spinning at the moment.

Dream (Friday)
You’ve got to make space for greatness – so instead of letting Friday become the uncontrollable chaos of to do lists and last-minute service details, force yourself to get things DONE a little early so you can DREAM. If you have everything dialed in, you can work to get ahead and be intentional to find more time for people and spend time wisely on programs.