If you’re finding that you don’t have time to move your vision forward then it’s time to drop the tasks that are holding you back. I too have found myself in a situation where I needed to let certain responsibilities go so that I could focus more and more on the things that would move the ministry forward. Instead of building processes and delegating tasks I had unintentionally taken on more and more responsibility, until I found myself in a real bind. It left me near the end of my emotional bandwidth. I was tired, irritable and not enjoying life.
Someone pointed the problem out to me and suggested I delegate so I can concentrate on doing what only I can do. Simple suggestion but complicated to execute.
3 considerations when delegating tasks that are holding you back
- Pruning – deciding what tasks others can do and then cutting them off
- Releasing Control – delegating means you have to let go and empower others
- Grieving – you had a rhythm that worked for you, don’t be surprised when it’s hard to let that go
Leaders don’t thrive when they are spread too thin and the mission suffers for it. Warning signs include mental and emotional exhaustion and feeling spiritually dry. Readiness to prune is usually gauged by pain tolerance. When a leader hits a wall then she/he is probably ready to prune.
Pruning away the tasks that are holding you back is the road to increased fruitfulness. Here is an exercise to assess what to prune. First, track how you spend your time and identify the top categories that are taking time. Second, ask the following questions:
- What can you delegate?
- What can you stop doing and no one would notice?
- What can you, and only you, do?
2. Releasing Control
There are a lot of motivations that influence a leader to want to control a situation or another person. The reality is that control is actually not an achievable goal. In very few circumstances can a leader control anything. Control is an illusion! And leaders who struggle with control are STRESSED.
Parents who hover over their kids. Bosses who micromanage employees. Husbands or wives who gaslight their spouse. Coaches who penalize their players unnecessarily. Leaders who over work their team members. Struggling to surrender control is an emotional symptom to a spiritual problem.
Steps to Surrender control:
Control is insidious. Often, it has a firm grip on you before you are even aware of it. There is no recovery from control without an awareness that it is a problem.
Control is seeped in judgment and is often multifaceted involving skewed views of yourself, of others, and even of God. To truly surrender control, it may be necessary to do an inventory of judgements you are holding onto and process through asking for, receiving, and maybe even extending forgiveness to relevant parties (including yourself).
Control will continue holding you back unless you change your relationship with it. And change is never easy. It’s best to have a solid delegation plan in place and then contingency plans to help you when control threatens to surface again.
Coaching questions to help leaders surrender control:
- What is causing your stress?
- How are you compounding your stress?
- What is a more desirable outcome?
- What new behaviors can you adopt?
- What are some things that you can do to make things right?
Can you grieve the loss of tasks? Absolutely. Every single change involves loss. Changing habits means losing the comfort of a familiar rhythm. You established that rhythm because it met a need and worked for you for a time. But that rhythm is now holding you back and needs to be changed.
Delegating means letting go of processes that served you well and entrusting them to others. It means changing your relationship with processes and with people. That’s a lot of change that requires letting go of what has become comfortable and maybe even important to you. It is almost impossible to move on without processing through these losses.
Processing what is lost
If you want delegation to stick, it is important to acknowledge your loss. Here are some questions to help:
- Which tasks or processes are you feeling uncomfortable delegating?
- In addition to the task, what else are you giving up by delegating it?
- How has that rhythm served you well in the past?
- In what ways is that rhythm holding you back from accomplishing your goals?
- How is passing on this task helping in the development of others?
Remember the story I started the blog with above? A year later I found myself with more margin, a group of people I could delegate various responsibilities to and in a much better place personally. Bottom line – I was more productive doing the things that only I could do, gifted at and enjoyed doing.
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