3 Things the Leader Must Not Delegate

Earlier this week, I wrote a quick post on the difference between delegating and dumping. I noted that delegating differs from dumping in that the leader is still available, still engaged with the heart, and deeply concerned with who receives the delegated responsibility. A wise leader delegates and an effective one delegates well.

But there are some things the leader must never delegate.

As a husband and father, there are some things I don’t delegate or outsource. I never delegate the responsibility of dating my wife to another guy or raising my kids to another person because those responsibilities and privileges are deeply woven into what it means to be a godly husband and father.

There are some things a leader likewise should not hand over to someone else, the things a leader must own. When Jethro encouraged Moses to hand responsibility over to others, he also highlighted the responsibilities Moses should retain:

Instruct (the people) about the statutes and laws, and teach them the way to live and what they must do. But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. (Exodus 18:20-21)

Here are three things the leader must not delegate:

1)    Clarity of identity

God had adopted Israel and given them statutes and laws, in part, so that His people would be distinct. Jethro reminded Moses about his responsibility to instruct the people in the laws God had given His people, the laws that uniquely defined them as God’s people.

A leader must own the responsibility of ensuring that the beliefs and values that identify the ministry/organization are explicitly clear and understood by the people.

2)    Clarity of direction

Jethro also encouraged Moses to ensure the people understood what they should do, how they should live in response to the reality that God had rescued them from Egyptian slavery.

A leader must own the responsibility to offer overarching direction to the ministry or organization. Without clarity of direction, a plethora of directions are invented and directionless chaos can ensue.

3)    Building the team

While Jethro encouraged Moses to delegate, he challenged Moses to be personally involved in the selection of leaders. Moses was tasked with finding and placing leaders of both character (God-fearing and trustworthy) and competence (able) so that the people would be served well.

A leader must own the responsibility of building his/her team. The health and culture of the ministry/organization is deeply connected to the health and culture of her leaders.

As a leader, you must delegate, and you should seek to delegate well. But retain the responsibility of building your team and providing clarity of identity and direction.


  1. says

    Solid stuff, Eric. I just spent the last two weeks reflecting on this exact thing. It’s amazing what leaders end up saying yes to by their actions that end up resulting in their saying no to the actions they should directly be involved in. This is a strong reminder to be consistently evaluating our calendar and our to-do list to make sure we’re spending adequate time on the primary objectives of our roles and delegating and empowering others toward their roles and responsibilities.

  2. says

    Knowing it is never easy to change staff members; however, would you say it is of highest priority to change the staff that does not buy into the direction of the church? Number three stated, “But retain the responsibility of building your team and providing clarity of identity and direction.” Some of the leaders like their position but the work is no longer a ministry.

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