Pastors' Forum


Developing and Delegating

I’m curious how other pastors develop their leaders, and how they delegate responsibilities to others. I’d like to increase my proficiency in these areas, and would love to get insights from other pastors.


Pastor Dean Hawk – Colorado Springs, CO
Too often we set ourselves up as the ultimate leader and every decision must be run past us. This will clog up your leadership process. Making decisions—good and bad— is what grows our leadership skill set and will grow the leaders beneath you. My goal as a senior leader is to continually REDUCE the number of decisions I make so the ministry can expand by having leaders that have learned how to make good decisions. The only way your team can learn how to make good decisions is by making bad ones. We have to give our leadership team room to fail and know their job is not in jeopardy. When a bad decision is made, we sit down with them and ask, “What did you learn? What will you do different next time?”

We must understand that every decision made within our organization is not going to be 100% in alignment with our will, wants, or desires. My staff will sometimes make a good decision, but from my perspective, it was not the BEST decision. The litmus test I ask myself is, “Did they move the ball up the field?” As long as there was progress, I count it as a victory. If you want to make all the decisions, you are doomed to mediocrity, a crippled leadership team, and a small church. One of the most empowering statements you can make to your team is, “You Decide!” Recently some of my staff had slipped back into wanting to run things by me and I needed to get some writing done. For two days I had a sign on my office door: “I’m busy writing…YOU DECIDE!”

Pastor Tim Kutz – Bartlesville, OK

This question is one of the most valuable to be answered for every pastor. This is at the top of the list for every pastor that is new to the ministry. It is also an ongoing question, as learning in this area is a constant process. Every pastor should continually “consider” making adjustments to their leadership track, as managing and leading people is as diverse as the individual personalities of the people they lead.

Please allow me to address the empowerment/leadership style. There will be many excellent entries on developing leaders in this forum.

First and foremost, submit yourself to the leadership of where the Lord has called you. Please understand that your leadership track will not succeed, no matter what you do, if you are first of all, not a loyal follower!!! All things continuing godly, have the attitude that, “as long as the Lord lives, and as long as you live, I will not leave you.”

Secondly, no matter what your leadership style is, make the decision that you are going to empower people to lead. We are not meant to single-handedly do any particular job. To not empower people to help you lead, and to micro-manage them is, in my view, an expression of pride. Cultivate a culture where people are not fearful of making mistakes. Be a results oriented leader.

Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
First of all, give them something small to do that they can quickly finish if they have any initiative at all. If they come back to you quickly and the task is done correctly, and they ask for something else to do, than that is a good sign. If they don’t get back to you and you have to ask them if they have had time to do the job, you may not have a self- starter.

You aren’t looking for someone else to have to micro-manage. As the person completes tasks with competency, give them more or larger tasks. Praise their efforts and let them know that you appreciate their service. A pat on the back goes a long way. After a while, you will probably notice some leadership skills in them. Ask the Lord what His plans are for the individual and be led by God. Train them up. Don’t be afraid to SHOW them how you want something done. Don’t make them guess. Before you know it, they will be able to train someone to those tasks and you can promote them to bigger things. Enjoy the experience and enjoy the people that God has surrounded you with.

Pastor Jesse Zepeda – Pflugerville, TX
This is what the Lord revealed to me about delegating.

There are 3 types of church attendees:

  1. Will volunteer and serve whenever I make a request for assistance.
  2. Will not volunteer but will serve when I make a personal request for assistance.
  3. Will not volunteer and will not serve regardless of my request (will not be attending our church for long).

In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them.”

Both Type 1 and Type 2 attendees grow up, mature, and will be ready for leadership responsibilities.

We give our leaders plenty of opportunities to serve and to minister to our congregation.

This helps me and it helps them.

Pastor Larry Phalen – Dickinson, ND
My main method is hands-on. I minister to my leaders each Sunday morning, but primarily, I put their hands to the plow early. I give basic instructions and let them proceed.

It has backfired a time or two, but overall has been very successful for us at Break Forth Bible Church. I guess that was how I was raised on the ranch, and so I have implemented the same approach in ministry. I have observed through the years that many are constantly in the training mode and never get a chance to get their feet wet, so I allow them to get in and learn to walk with Him. Some I have thrown in.

I do teach and minister to my leaders each Sunday morning, bringing forth instructions, doctrines, etc. All in all, I am thankful for each one the Lord has brought my way. I attempt to instill in leaders working with me that we are one and should attempt to labor as one. It is working for us as He has brought good men and women our way.

Pastor Jim Blanchard – Virginia Beach, VA
I noticed after about 5 years of pastoral ministry, that my personal development as a leader needed to be one of my top priorities. I enrolled in Regent University’s Organizational Leadership program, and after completing the undergraduate degree, am currently studying leadership at the graduate level.

In regards to developing leaders around you, I have been immensely helped by obtaining Dr. Dean Radtke’s materials on Executive Church Leadership. The basic premise is that Senior leaders should build teams of five that oversee most major ministry functions, and each of these leaders should build teams of five that report to them on a monthly basis. The senior leader then meets with his five to stay abreast of challenges, triumphs, and plans strategically for growth and meeting challenges in these various areas of ministry. An awareness and implementation of a leadership team structure is imperative in local churches as leaders are only as effective as their teams that surround them.

There are also other excellent resources available in church staff development. We also use Tony Cooke’s “In Search of Timothy” book and curriculum in conducting leadership training at the church.

All of God’s best in your endeavors to build the Kingdom of God.

Pastor John Lowe – Warsaw, IN
Leadership development is a never ending process in the church or in business, if you do your job really well. God is short of great leaders, so He may tag some of yours to go to other parts of the world.

So do it again and again — constantly. Some people move out of the area. Some get promoted in jobs because of the skills they learn under your leadership.

As far as delegation, delegate as much as possible to those that have proven trustworthy. You can’t do it all. Grow the ministry and people.

Pastor Duane Hanson – St. Paul, MN
Developing leaders and delegating responsibilities to those God has assigned to help us with His vision for the ministry can be a real challenge! Both of these—developing & delegating—begin with recognizing those with leadership characteristics, qualities and abilities. On my part, as the Senior Pastor, it becomes my responsibility to create an environment within the church that promotes and builds on the foundation of a discipleship relationship. I must take the time and effort to identify and equip those who demonstrate a heart for serving others. It’s these individuals that will become the focus of my efforts to develop into leaders, and delegate the responsibilities of ministry.

Every Pastor must learn to recognize those around them with God-given leadership characteristics and abilities. Once we have identified these qualities, we must engage them and help develop those skills and aptitudes! I realize it’s become a cliché these days, but there is a fundamental truth to the statement “Leadership Is Influence.” The problem comes in when the influence becomes more negative than positive!

I learned a hard lesson in my early years of ministry. More than once I made the mistake of promoting someone to a position of leadership and influence based on potential, and not based on their faithfulness. I saw such great potential in these talented and gifted people, and made the mistake of delegating certain responsibilities to them before proving their faithfulness. In some cases I was able to recover from my mistake and help that person transition into a position more suitable to their maturity and abilities; but in others, it required removing that person from a position of leadership when their lack of faithfulness became so evident to others.

To delegate something significant to another person requires a level of trust that must be earned. That trust comes from time spent together, and a sense of loyalty that is created due to having the same heart for God’s people. That depth of loyalty is a challenging character trait to cultivate and develop in your leadership team. And as Proverbs 14:22 instructs us “…loving-kindness and mercy, loyalty and faithfulness, shall be to those who devise good.” [AMP]

Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica and gave them a word of encouragement along these lines. As 1 Thessalonians 5:12 makes clear, God requires the Church to “…know them that labor among you.” The Amplified Bible makes it even more obvious: “…get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]…”

Realistically, that ability to “know them” and “recognize them” goes in both directions, and can only be built upon a personal relationship between those already in leadership, and those being prepared for leadership positions. As the Pastor, this involves taking steps to show that we trust them with the vision that God has entrusted to us. Delegating responsibilities within the church requires that all those involved in leadership must develop ministry relationships based upon faithfulness, loyalty and trust.