lessons (2 of 5)

Here are some more thoughts on lessons I've learned in the past ten years of ministry in Africa. Do what only you can do. Spend your time and energy on that which makes you the strongest asset to your team. Delegation has always been hard for me. I am a perfectionist, and very detail-oriented... so it's hard for me to pass things off to others. For a long time, we didn't have "others" to pass them off to, and I got very comfortable juggling so many things on my own. As our team grew, I learned (slowly) to equip my teammates to help carry the load.

I made a list of the things I want to spend my time doing, and the things that "only I can do" so that when we had the right people, I could start passing things off. Something "only I can do" is be the "face" of the ministry for our partners back in the States (with Niel, of course). Yes, I could have someone else write our newsletters or write email replies to our supporters. But I don't want to. I want to continue having personal contact with the people who make our ministry possible. So I still personally reply to every email we get from our supporters (not always very speedily, although I sure try!). And while I now have some assistance in this area, I still write the final copy for our newsletters, printed letters, brochures, website, etc. It represents us, so I am heavily involved in what the ministry puts out in writing.

We still don't have enough staff for me to only do what only I can do. But we're definitely miles ahead of where we were even just 18 months ago. I probably spend about 40-50% of my time doing what I love and feel specifically called to do. The rest of my time is still spent in other areas. Right now, the 80/20 principle seems impossible, but it is something I am working toward: Spending 80% of my time doing what makes me the strongest asset to our team and ministry, and spending the remaining 20% on the have-to's that I can't avoid being involved in.

Give authority with responsibility. Trust your team; they have strengths in areas you don’t. This is as hard for me as delegation is. I need to constantly remember that just because someone does something differently than I would, it doesn't make it wrong. I have to work hard at times to keep my attitude in check when I know a "better way". I need to get more big-picture oriented and get my brain out of the details sometimes. As long as the end result is right, the means of getting there shouldn't matter.

When it's painfully obvious that someone is better than me at something, it's easier to trust them to do the job. It's when I think I could do it better that I really need to work hard at fully letting go. Trust is something that is a challenge for me, both personally and with ministry responsibilities, but I've grown a lot in the area of trusting our team. We are blessed with some high-caliber staff members and interns who continue to blow me away with their giftedness. They've been a huge part of me learning to let go and trust others to get the job done.

How much of your time do you spend doing what you love/want? Is it hard to trust others with tasks you are good at?
Thoughts, Questions?