9 Reasons Why People Don’t Delegate

People chuckle when I say, “I like to delegate.” I guess it must be true. To me, delegation is part of the Ephesians 4 process of ‘preparing God’s people for works of service.’ When I can successfully release, equip & empower others to serve it seems as if I am propelling them towards their God-given purposes and calling. It helps that I can do more of what God’s called me to as well!

But I also have a very personal understanding of why we tend to procrastinate when it comes to delegating tasks, projects and leadership to others. Here are 9 reasons I can think of why we don’t delegate.

  • Not Enough Time
    It’s ironic, but true. The very thing we don’t have time to do is what will eventually give us more time. Getting started is often the hardest part. When will we find the time to recruit, train & keep track of what others are doing? Honestly, I wonder if it’s not really that we don’t have the time. Perhaps it’s simply that we haven’t made delegation a priority? Just a thought.
  • Losing Control
    When we invest a lot of time, energy & passion into a project or ministry, it can simply be real hard to let it go. Delegation requires some calculated risk-taking. It means we won’t be holding the steering wheel anymore. Which also means we won’t be able to control how things are done. Of course, when we give into this fear, what we’re really saying is that nobody can do it better than us – which probably isn’t really true. Giving up control is a basic ingredient of leadership. If you can’t do it, you’re not leading.
  • Not Getting Credit
    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy some praise every once in a while. For some of us, this is more important than others. But ultimately, this motivation is simply self-centered. If I’m not releasing others to lead, manage or ‘do’ because I’m addicted to back patting, then what I’m really saying is that I’m more important than the potential team I have sitting around me. 
  • Losing Tasks You Love
    This is a more complicated excuse for not delegating. On the one hand, I could argue that it’s self-centered to keep the tasks we love for ourselves. However, it could be that the reason you love to do them is because it’s what God has for you. I know people who have intentionally refused promotions in the workplace simply because they don’t believe the next rung in the ladder is what God has called them to do. That said, when this is the challenge we face, I believe hitting the floor and submitting the issue to God is the best solution you can find.
  • You Can Do It Better
    At the beginning, this is almost always true. It’s also probably the number one reason why we don’t delegate. Years ago, a mentor told me this. If someone else can do it 80% as well as you, it’s probably worth releasing it to them. Here’s the key: as long as I’m committed to equipping and training them, this can work. Over the years I’ve watched a lot of great people rise far above their leaders. But they rarely began that way. It didn’t happen until those leaders took the risk and let them struggle and fail at times.
  • Delegated Out of a Job
    Every once in a while our reasons might be purely due to the worry that, if I give away my responsibilities, maybe I might find myself out of a job. I have two thoughts about this. First, maybe that’s true. If so, then I can only assume that it’s for the best. If others can do what you’re doing better, then it may be time to trust the Lord’s leading for both you and where you are working. This releases you to find the place where you can shine. Second, and this is more likely to be true, if you can successfully delegate leadership to others, you will very likely prove your value to your leaders. True leaders rarely get rid of others who know how to lead. 
  • You Don’t Trust Others
    It’s a fact of life. Other people are sometimes not trustworthy. It’s very important that, when we delegate, we do so to the RIGHT people. That said, often our mistrust of others can end up crippling our leadership. We can end up ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ if we’re not careful. Leaders take calculated risks. So calculate and take some risks.
  • Saying ‘No’ For Them
    In my 20+ years of ministry I’ve heard more reasons why people CAN’T do things than I have ever heard why they can. What’s ironic is that it’s not the actual person who had those reasons. It was the leadership team that was considering calling and asking them to get involved! We sit around and tell ourselves, “They’re too busy.” or “They’ve been going through a hard time.” or “They are already involved somewhere else.” When we do that, we are stripping those people from the very opportunities they may unknowingly be waiting for. Don’t say no for others, let them do it instead, if they want to.
  • You Don’t Know How
    It’s hard to recruit and delegate others. In ministry, we tend to assume that if I’m the leader or director of the ministry then I should know how to recruit others to join the team. That’s presumptuous. Businesses spend millions of dollars every year training and paying for professional communicators to promote and recruit people to their causes. I recommend you stop assuming everyone knows how to recruit & delegate and begin getting books, articles and speakers in to train your team instead. A great little book you might consider starting with is Andy Stanley’s, “Making Vision Stick“.

What other reasons can you think of why we don’t delegate?

This article was originally published on this blog in December of 2013. photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

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