The pastor’s week is filled with decisions. And if we are being honest, for a good number of these decisions the pastor is clueless. In any given week the pastor will need to not only manage his own time but also plot out the weekly schedule for the tables in the fellowship hall. He’ll go from plunging the depths of Scripture—searching for meaning and trying to discover how to preach it—to plunging the always-clogged toilet in the children’s wing. Decisions will need be made about fixing doors, how many wood chips to order, and where the best place in town is to buy bunk beds.
When the pastor is not making decisions on those things that he doesn’t understand he’ll also be consulted for things in which he has training. But even still some of the relationship questions and moral quandaries that he is presented with will leave even the most seasoned pastor scratching his head.
The weight is indeed too much for one man to bear alone.
If any pastor decides to play the pity game about his schedule, I imagine a quick chat with Moses would end most of that. Not only did Moses have to spend a solid hour each day grooming that stellar beard of his, he also had to make decisions for all the people of Israel. That’d be like pastoring a handful of the most mega mega-churches all by your lonesome without much help to speak of.
When Moses’ father-in-law saw what was going on he exhorted Moses to put an end to the madness. “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you.” To modernize that a bit, “Stop putting all this weight on yourself, dummy.”
What I find especially interesting about this counsel is why Jethro told Moses to stop the madness. The obvious reason is that it’s too much weight to bear alone and it will crush Moses. He cannot be the only one in Israel to apply God’s Word to their situation. He must delegate. The interesting part is the not so obvious reason why Moses needs to stop this madness. It will not only crush Mose,s it will “wear out” the people as well.
Most pastors don’t delegate because they believe they are doing their people a favor. The pastor will burn himself out in the ministry with the hopes that the people in the congregation will be freed to joyously pursue the Lord. But it doesn’t happen. In fact the opposite is true. And it’s true for at least two reasons.
Tired pastors make tired disciples.
Moses was tasked with causing the word of God to bear on their lives. They were learning how God’s Word applied to their everyday lives. Essentially Moses was charged with discipling the budding nation of Israel. If he attempted to do this alone it would wear him out. When a disciple-maker gets worn out, he’ll likely neglect the difficult work of disciple making. A passionless disciple-maker shouldn’t expect to make passionate disciples.
Thankfully the converse is also true: passionate pastors make passionate disciples. If Moses delegates, though, and focuses his time on teaching God’s Word to a few people that will teach God’s Word to a few other people, then there is a much greater chance that he won’t get burned out. In fact, intentional delegation and discipleship can actually generate passion as you see another person become excited about the truths that once stirred up your own heart.
Tired pastors make tired decisions
The Israelites didn’t merely need to know right answers—they needed to know how to make right decisions and right application of God’s Word. If Moses was tired then he would simply give them right answers. In the same way tired pastors might still rightly exposit God’s Word, but they won’t do it with passionate application.
Every pastor knows that there are decisions that can be made that will get you by for a season. There is usually an easy path that one can take that will lead to less friction, less time, and less of a potential for disaster. And every pastor knows that these decisions are never the best decisions. The decisions worth dying for are the ones that come with a potential for friction and disaster and will take a great deal of time and effort to execute. Tired pastors never make the difficult decisions. Tired pastors make tired decisions. A pastor that delegates is likely to make the more difficult—and better—decisions.
Delegation can be difficult. There are many times when it is much easier to do things ourselves rather than teaching someone how to do them. Delegation can also be scary, as we entrust precious things to other people. Yet, the counsel of Jethro helps us to see that delegation is not only vital for our own health but also for the health of those that we lead. When you refuse to delegate you are hurting far more than just yourself. Brothers, let us faithfully and intentionally delegate.