“I’m tired of being an elder,” said a gentleman, approaching me at a church where I was to present a seminar. “There’s too much work to do in my church, and I feel like I’m doing it all by myself. I’m tired.”

“How many members does your church have?” I asked. 

“Around 300 members.” 

“It must be really hard to lead such a large church by yourself,” I said to him. “Have you ever tried delegating some responsibilities to other members?”

That afternoon I was scheduled to present a seminar on the duties and responsibilities of a church elder. I hoped to give some pointers that would help my new friend learn ways to delegate, to share responsibility—and as a result, to help other members develop their talents.

Unfortunately, in some churches, there are members who tackle too many responsibilities and become exhausted because they do not know how to share the load. Some may even fear that if they delegate responsibility, they may lose their authority or control.

Becoming an effective leader means learning to trust the members, inviting them to help with the many duties involved in creating a vibrant, growing church. It means nurturing them as they develop their skills. And it means giving them the chance to fulfill their tasks. When you encourage member participation and involvement in church activities, members feel happier and more valued. And the elder will not be a one-person drone, but a leader.


Exodus 18:13-26 gives us an example of the need to delegate. Moses is leading the Israelites to Canaan. He has Sharing the load and the blessings accepted the task the Lord has given him, but it is a huge challenge, too much for one man. His father-in-law, Jethro, sees that Moses is exhausted and says to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.” Jethro recognized that when a consecrated leader fails to delegate appropriate responsibility and authority to others, he or she ends up exhausted and frustrated.

Jethro advised Moses to share the responsibility and the decision-making, delegating these tasks to trustworthy individuals. He said, “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you” (verses 21, 22).

Sometimes an elder or other church leader may feel there is no one in the congregation with experience enough to be given responsibility, and he or she uses this as an excuse not to delegate. But we must remember that those to whom Moses delegated authority didn’t have experience either. They had never held these positions; they had been slaves and brickmakers. However, in this text, the word “able” does not indicate that the people Moses chose had vast leadership experience. It means that he chose honest, reputable, capable people.

Delegating responsibility to members also means providing them with guidance and training. Jethro told Moses, “And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do” (verse 20). When we delegate authority and responsibility, we assume the commitment to train. This is important in the development of new leaders.


There are many advantages to delegating responsibility. 

Delegating facilitates the pastor or elder’s job. Just as with Moses, today’s Christian leaders may burn out if they attempt to carry the entire load of church responsibilities. Delegating frees leaders, giving them time and energy to fulfill their major obligation of spiritual nurture.

Delegating increases productivity. When people are involved in the church, results will be greater and efforts will be more efficient. The church’s needs will be better supplied.

Delegating prepares others for leadership. The best way to prepare future leaders is by recruiting members and trusting them with responsibilities appropriate to their gifts and abilities. This gives them the opportunity to develop leadership skills.

Delegating reduces stress and increases time. A leader overloaded with church activities will become exhausted and will not be effective in carrying out his or her responsibilities. Carrying too heavy a load will also crowd out essentials such as personal devotions and family time.

Delegating values people. When we delegate responsibility to someone, we are saying, “I trust you. I know you are capable.” Members who accept responsibilities will feel valued and happier.

Delegating increases the member’s motivation and commitment to the church. Members receive spiritual benefits when they perform the activities delegated to them. They become more involved with and committed to the church program. 

All church leaders can benefit by writing out a list of their responsibilities and then circling in red at least half that can be delegated. Begin now to share the load— and the blessings. Delegating is a win-win-win situation which benefits the leader, the one who receives new responsibility, and the entire congregation. Leading without delegating is not genuine leadership.

During His earthly ministry, Christ chose 12 inexperienced, uneducated men to whom He would delegate the task of sharing the good news of the Gospel. He taught them, and He entrusted them with responsibility. This is an example for Christian leaders to follow.

Jonas Arrais is editor of the Elder’s Digest magazine.