Posts Tagged ‘delegate


Dangerous Delegation

While Joan and I were out of town last week, I decided to try something different. I knew the lawn would need attention during our absence, but rather than call the 20-something year old young man who usually cuts our grass, I knocked on the door of my next-door neighbor, Dan.

Dan has a son – let’s call him Ethan – who is about 10-11 years old. I asked Dan if he thought Ethan would be interested in earning a few bucks by cutting our grass while we were gone. Dan said, “Well, he’s never mowed a lawn before, but sure!” (You see, Dan went total xeriscape a few years ago. Meaning his lawn is 100% rocks and mulch and ground cover. Ergo, no mower needed.)

I went over the instructions on the operation of our EGO battery-powered mower with Dan, agreed on a price, and then contentedly jumped into the car and hit the road. 

When we got back from our trip, I could tell that the lawn had been mowed. The problem was it wasn’t mowed like I would have mowed it. Ethan hadn’t trimmed along the edges. The lines were a little wobbly. He also didn’t bag the clippings. [Leave aside for a moment the fact that I didn’t ask Ethan to edge or bag the clippings.]

I sighed to myself and muttered, “I guess I should have just waited and mowed it myself when we got back.”

I was reminded once again of the challenge of DELEGATION.

If you have ever had supervisory responsibility over other people, you know exactly what I am talking about. Heck, if you have ever been a parent, you know this dilemma, too. 

On more than one occasion you have likely faced that moment when a task needs to leave your “TO DO” list and migrate toward someone else’s. You know how similar that feeling is to the feeling when you wave good-bye to your child at the pre-school door. 

It feels like your baby has just been tossed to the wolves.

Handing over a task to someone else feels like losing control. It feels like condemning that task to a second-class existence, its full potential never to be realized. 

You know no one else can (or will) do it as well as you might have. You fear that when THEY finish with it, it will not look even REMOTELY like what you intended it to look like.

Hopefully you are smart enough to also realize that unless you delegate, you will drown. 

So let me ask you this: if you agonize this much about handing over a spreadsheet to your cubicle colleague, how do you think Jesus felt about handing over his entire ministry to a bunch of – charitably speaking – first century chowderheads?

I don’t think I am being unnecessarily cruel when I use the word “chowderheads” to describe the Terrible Twelve. We see example after example of Jesus having to pull one or more of them aside to explain what he means or what the heck is going on. 

Most of Jesus’ parables conclude with scenes of the disciples sitting around, scratching their heads, asking each other, “What did he mean by that?”

There is also the famous scene in Matthew’s gospel when James and John (referred to as “the sons of Zebedee”) coerce their mother into asking Jesus if her boys can sit next to Jesus when he comes into power. 


And the examples don’t stop there. Let’s not forget the disciples’ blatant flaunting of Sabbath purity rituals, or Peter’s triple denial. Or for that matter, the pinnacle of disqualifying behavior: the disciple Judas’ ultimate betrayal of his Master. 

And yet. It was THIS exact motley crew to whom Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NRSVU). It was that same exact, denying guy – Peter – Jesus commanded to, “… feed my sheep…” (John 21:17, NRSVU) and about whom he said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18, NRSVU). 

Is it possible that Jesus knew something you and I don’t know? Is it possible he knew there was Something Else – something besides their IQs, their theological training, their charisma, or their SAT scores – that would qualify them for this world-shaping, history-making task? 

I think you already know the answer to that question. 

I know something else you know but might be a little frightened to say out loud; I know that regardless of YOUR IQ, theological training, charisma, SAT scores, family connections, net worth, or even your ability to string three words together in a coherent sentence, Jesus is also delegating that same mission to YOU .

Abundant blessings;

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