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June 9, 2018

How to Empower People in Ministry

By Annie Garman

How can we possibly lead well? In my 20 years of ministry experience, I’ve learned that doing it all yourself is not the answer. Even though it might feel slow, we’ve got to learn how to involve others and delegate things. 

Here are five practical ways to enlist help and empower others instead of doing it all yourself.

1. Decide it’s worth doing

You won’t be able to enlist help for something until you’re convinced it’s worth doing. Get alone on your knees. Is this something God is stirring in you? Is this something close to the heart of God or something that He didn’t have in mind when He gave us His final instructions? If you believe your idea is biblical and Spirit-induced, then make a decision that it’s worth doing.

2. Cast Vision

When I saw the opportunity to minister to international people in our community, I made a pitch. I implored our congregation to first look around. I wasn’t sure if our members were seeing what I was seeing. They needed to be convinced that gospel ministry to international people was important, strategic, and biblical. They needed a picture of what it would look like for our neighbors to know the love of Jesus and proclaim it back in their home countries. They needed someone to cast the vision.

3. Observe

Now that you’ve communicated what you believe God has given you, look around. What gifts are in your congregation? I’m not just talking about Justin who can play the guitar. I’m talking about gifts that people don’t even realize they have. Does Amy seem to come alive when she opens her home to people? Does Diana really have a knack for decorating? Have you recently heard John talk about his graphic design hobby? Be listening to what people in your church enjoy doing. Dig to discover their strengths and unique gifting. 

4. Ask

After you’ve communicated the importance of what you’re doing and observed what people are good at, make the ask. Full disclaimer: I hate this part. Maybe that’s because I’m afraid I’ll make people feel uncomfortable or stress them out with my request. My husband has recently counseled me to confidently make the ask and let people say no if they can’t do it.  Don’t decide for people what they can handle. Let them manage that.

In your ask, cast the vision of how they could use that gift for the kingdom and not just for their own enjoyment. You can either ask in a general way (a post on your church’s Facebook page or email the congregation) or specifically ask people who God brings to your mind. When you’re building a team or trying to accomplish anything in ministry, you’ve got to learn to delegate responsibility and not do it all by yourself (even if you think you’d be better at it).

5. Model, Assist, Watch, and Leave.

Now this is empowering people 101. As you are trying to delegate responsibilities, this is the system I’ve seen work. Don’t just do the task; bring someone alongside you who can watch what you’re doing (model). After they’ve observed you, then walk by them as you delegate more responsibility and answer any questions (assist). Give them all the responsibility that you’ve had, but stay at their side to provide feedback (watch).  The next step is to leave the task completely in their hands (leave).

This is ideal but not always practical. 

Last summer, our family went to Iceland to support our church’ s work and I asked a few women to lead our women’s ministry events while I was gone. We did a condensed, messy version of model/assist, and then I had to leave.  When I returned from Iceland, these women had a well-developed ministry plan that far exceeded what I had been doing.

That leads me to my last point: Sometimes a way to enlist help is simply by leaving. When all the holes are filled, people don’t think they’re needed. If you leave one ministry to start another, the holes become obvious and people can see the necessity of contributing their unique gifts to their local church. 

How have you learned to enlist and empower others instead of just doing it all yourself?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annie Garman

Annie B. Garman is a pastor’s wife and mother to four excitable girls, and author of Unexpected Grace: When Your Child is Born With Half a Heart. She and her family serve at Pillar Church in Northern Virginia where the traffic is thick, but the church planting opportunities abound. Their network of churches is attempting to plant a reproducible gospel-centered church at every Marine Corps base around the world (praetorianproject.org). Her biggest passion is to know Christ and make Him known in whatever situation she finds herself in. Annie shares her thoughts on motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life at anniebgarman.com.

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