MISSION POSSIBLE SERMON SERIES
THE LONE DANGER – LEARNING THE IMPORTANCE OF DELEGATION
JUNE 9, 1996
I want to expose a major flaw in the following individuals. You might know these folks as super heroes. Batman. The Green Hornet. Superman. Wonder Woman. Spider Man. Here is the flaw. Each of these super heroes thinks that they are the only one that can carry out the task at hand. Even the Lone Ranger fell into the trap of the lone danger when he tried to go solo. Think back for a second to the comic books, television shows and movies that you grew up with that featured these icons. Each one of the super heroes could have achieved greater status in the crime fighting world had they only learned the secret and the power of delegation.
Take Batman for example, we all know and love him, the Caped Crusader. Batman had a lot of talented people right at his finger tips. He had Robin. He had Commissioner Gordon, Chief O’Hara, Alfred and even Aunt Margaret, plus the entire Gotham City Police Force. If you study his life, though, he rarely used those individuals to their fullest potential. Granted, he was the best crime fighter in Gotham City but he could have multiplied himself and his effort and his vision if only he had delegated, entrusted responsibility to others around him. Trying to do it all alone is the lone danger.
Interestingly enough, delegation was not invented by some Harvard Business School Grad or some leadership expert or some CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Delegation was thought up and invented by our transcendent and loving God. All you have to do is read the second chapter of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, and you find our God entrusting the responsibility of caring for the Garden of Eden to a husband and wife team known as Adam and Eve. In the Old Testament, God delegated stuff to people like Moses, Deborah and David. Over in the New Testament, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, delegated His ministry to the twelve disciples. And then, right before He ascended into the heavens, Jesus delegated the spreading of the gospel to people like you and me. Delegation matters so much to God that He spent an entire portion of scripture talking about it. It is found in the book of Nehemiah, the book we have been studying for the last couple of weeks.
Let’s join Nehemiah. Empowered by the Holy Spriti of God, he will teach us lessons regarding the dynamics of delegation. Here is the situation. God had delegated the rebuilding of the wall to this great man. He had to go to Jerusalem and lead the effort to rebuild the wall, a feat that had not been accomplished in over 90 years. Let me push the pause button for a second. Do you have problems with delegation? Do you have a difficult time giving responsibility to others in your life? If you ever want to try to organize a family, a business or a project, take your hints from the dynamics of delegation found here in Nehemiah, chapter three. Nehemiah will show us how to delegate as he rebuilds this wall.
The first dynamic is Simplification: organize around natural groupsing. If I want to do something big, if I want to build my vision in this company or in this people group, I have got to simplify it and then organize around natural groupings. What if Nehemiah had said this when he hit the city limits of Jerusalem. “I’m going to do it by myself because no one else can do it like me. I will make every brick. I will mix the mortar. I will work in the hot boiling sun. I will repair section, after section, after section. I’ve got to do it because no one else can work like me.” Nehemiah didn’t say that. Nehemiah delegated and he understood that the strongest organizations are the simplest. Nehemiah was a leadership genius. A genius has the ability to reduce the complex to the simple. It wasn’t all that complicated. Nehemiah didn’t hit Jerusalem and decide for form some huge think tank, with committees, trustees and several subsidiary companies. He didn’t want to do that.
We hit some great names in this study. Nehemiah 3:1. “Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate…” Now the priests would be a natural grouping. The pastors hung out together and it was natural for them to repair the Sheep Gate. What is a Sheep Gate? The Sheep Gate was a gate near the temple where all the sacrificial animals were herded in so that they could be used in the worship. And you would think as you look at the project, where would the priests really want to work, get fired up about repairing? Hey, no problem. Repair the Sheep Gate. And the priests did it and they did an unbelievable job. Nehemiah 3:10. “Jedaiah made repairs opposite his house…” The natural groupings. First the priests, then the families. Let me ask you something. If we said right now, build a wall around the city of Dallas/Ft. Worth and you had a chance to build your portion of the wall in front of your house, would you do a good job? You better believe it. “This is going to be in front of my house. This is going to be the best wall possible. It will be quality. It will really work.” Yeah, Nehemiah also saved time, no jumping on the bus or driving here, there and yonder. Work in front of your house he told them. The priests, they worked in front of their church. I love Nehemiah 3:12. “Shallum…repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.” What? Women were rarely mentioned during these days. He was smart, though. He had his beautiful daughters working out there and you know the single men who were working next to big Shallum helped and assisted him in the rebuilding efforts. I definitely believe that.
Exodus 18. Moses had a problem. He was burnt out, wigged out, freaked out, hyped out because he was trying to do it all. One day his father-in-law, Jethro, came in and told Moses to relax, that he was killing himself. Moses put down a simple system that worked. He organized people in natural groupings and he effectively used his talents to be the best difference maker that he possibly could be.
When I read Nehemiah 3, I think back to the pastor’s search committee, when they first interviewed me here at the church. One of the members asked me a very profound question. “Ed, you are coming from a church that has 300 staff members to a mission church that has no staff members. What are you going to do about it?” I thought for a second and then the Lord just gave me these words. “I’ll tell you what I am going to do. You will be my staff. We can’t pay you but you’ll be my staff.” People were on this committee like Doris Scoggins, like Owen Goff and many others. Some were interested in the financial realm, they handled the finances. Some were interested in the administration realm, they handled that. Some were interested in the Bible Study realm, they handled that. Delegation. It is a Biblical concept. It is a concept that God wants us to get in on and frankly, one of the reasons God has blessed and anointed the Fellowship of Las Colinas is because we are a church that delegates. Any time we have an opportunity, we try to delegate, to train someone and give the ministry away. Simplification.
The second dynamic is Participation: work with those who want to work. In other words teamwork. In other words a cohesiveness, a togetherness. Recently I was with my brother on his boat negotiating the tricky waters of the Trinity River. I saw something on the Trinity River that I had never seen before, and you know I am a big wildlife kind of a guy, a family of feral pigs. They came sprinting down the bank and dove into to muddy waters of the Trinity, the swift currants. They were swimming across the river. And I saw what was unfolding before my eyes. The bank they were approaching was practically vertical. I thought there was no way these pigs were going to make it, that they would surely drown. But they were wild pigs, with big tusks, so we kind of kept our distance. The pigs, big and small, couldn’t climb the bank. Finally, I saw the moms and dads take their hoofs and cling to the banks while the little ones climbed onto their backs and jumped to safety. They all made it out. Why? Because of feral pig teamwork.
You will not read Nehemiah’s name in Nehemiah 3. It is not there. Don’t look for it. Why? Because Nehemiah had a vision from God, he cast it to the people and gave them ownership of it and allowed them to complete their tasks where they were gifted.
Nehemiah 3:19, “Next to him, Ezer repaired another section…” Verse 20 and 21 and 22 all contain that phrase, next to him. Next to him is mentioned 22 times in chapter three. When God mentions something once you better pay attention, twice you had better really listen, 22 times, there might be something here. Next to him. Work with those who want to work. Going over to Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has not one to help him up!” I know so many leaders, listen to me now, so many leaders have their time pac-manned because they spend hour after hour trying to corral, coerce and convince the non-workers to work. Work with those who want to work. In every group, in every church, in every organization, in every school, in every team you have got people who want to work, who want to sacrifice, who want to give and others who want to sit back. You have got the workers and the shirkers. Work with those who want to work.
I go back again to the early days of this church. We used to have projects and big events and we would have a nice group attending. I didn’t learn this principle until recently. Back then I would get all worried and stressed out because of who wasn’t there. Why aren’t those other families here, why not those other single adults. And all of a sudden, a couple of years ago, God showed me that I should work with those who want to work, move with the movers and love everybody. It gets down to that principle which states 20% of the people do 80% of the work, 20% of the people give 80% of the money. 20% of the people eat 80% of the food at the picnic!
Nehemiah 3:5, “The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work….” If these nobles had known that they would be mentioned in the word of God, read by billions and billions of Christians throughout the ages, do you think they would have worked? “…but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.” What did Nehemiah do? “Oh,no, why aren’t these men working? Is it me? Is it the organization? Is the wall? Is it the temperature outside? Oh, no, what is wrong?” He didn’t say that. He just ignored them. He paid no attention to them. Think about your work. Think about that project. Think about that vision. Are you so worried about who is not there that you are missing the people who are there? Move with the movers, love everybody and work with the workers. Some are going to work and some will not.
The third dynamic is Specification: make detailed assignments. Nehemiah didn’t hit J Town and say, “OK, guys we are going to build a wall. Just start where you want to start. You can use wood, you can use brick, you can masonite, you can use sand.” If he had done that the wall would have been ugly and unsafe. He gave specific detailed assignments. Nehemiah 3:2-9, “The men of Jericho built the adjoining section and Zaccur built next to them…” The word section is used 13 times. Nehemiah organized this project to build the wall counterclockwise. We read, “Meremoth repaired the next section…Uzziel repaired the next section…Rephaiah…repaired the next section.”
Do you know where we can really delegate? This might scare you here. The family. Especially parent-child stuff. How in world are our kids going to learn how to delegate? We have got to delegate responsibility to them. Responsibility starts at an early age. Even when a child is only twelve months of age, you can begin, parents, to delegate responsibility to your children. Delegate, delegate, delegate. As they get older, delegate some more. And make sure your delegate at an age-appropriate rate. Make sure you delegate to the oldest child as much as you delegate to the youngest child. When there are more than one child, the oldest is often given a lot of responsibility. The youngest is pampered and not given much. Then you have the spoiled brat mentality. Specification. Think about your children, think about your co-workers, think about your friends. Think about this project you are working on. Think about the Little League team. Do the people around you have specific, clear cut job descriptions? Do they know what is expected of them? I talk to too many teenagers who say, “Well, I don’t know what my father wants. This one day, that another day. It is chaotic.” Spell it out. Get them to repeat it back to you.
Now how do you give specific, detailed assignments? I call this the Ed Young Ritz Bits theory. Have you ever seen those Ritz Bits? Our twins love the Ritz Bits. One day I came home for lunch to do some studying and sure enough Laurie and Landra had about 300 Ritz Bits everywhere. Ritz Bits are interesting. Nabisco was smart and sly. They knew that if we ate one or two Ritz Bits we would think that we were not eating very much. Then we would eat more, ten, twenty, seventy, eighty. That is what to do with assignments, break them down. Section, by section, by section. Ritz Bits. Break it down into bite sized chunks and then give clear assignments about what is expected.
The next dynamic that Nehemiah displayed was Administration: establish a clear line of authority. Nehemiah 17-18, “Repairs were made by the Levites under Rehum…next to him, the repairs were made by their countrymen under Bunnui…” Under. You see under. That is the second tier of leadership. Administration. Again, Nehemiah didn’t say, “Look at me, I’m the man. It is my vision.” He shared it. He owned it with the people. Delegation is not an excuse for relaxation but a reason for multiplication. “Well, I can just sit back and chill for the rest of my life.” No, no, no. It is not an excuse for relaxation, it is a reason for multiplication. When this church hit 275 people in attendance regularly, it outgrew me. One person can effectively oversee about 250 people. So what do you do in your business, in your church, in your family, in the project? You delegate. You check up on people. You establish a clear line of authority. Nehemiah went around the wall counterclockwise, seeing people, learning from people, understanding their names, what was bothering them. He noticed those people who were doing a good job, and those who needed a pep talk. Administration. You have got to check up on people because people do not do what you expect but what you inspect. Everything in the universe has a chain of command. We are under the authority of God and God’s word. As children we are under the authority of our parents. We have authority at church, authority at a doctor’s office, authority at the attorney’s office. Wherever you turn, there is a chain of command. God has put people over you and over me for certain reasons. And we have to honor them and love them. When we find ourselves in these positions we have to say, “I am going to be the best administrator possible, I want to establish a clear line of authority.”
The last dynamic is Affirmation: recognize and compliment others. Seventy-four times Nehemiah mentioned seventy-four people. Why? Because they were doing a great job. Nehemiah 3: various verses, “Eliashib….Zaccur…sons of Hassenaah…Meremoth…Meshaulam…Zadok, Joiada…Melatiah and Jadon…Uzziel and Hananiah…” They are still remembered today, all of these people. They were doing a good job.
In Luke 17 we find Jesus is walking into a city. As He hits the outskirts of the city, ten lepers come up to Him and ask for healing. Jesus told them to turn around and show themselves to the priests. They were healed. Not one blemish. One healed leper make a quick U-turn, ran back to Jesus, fell down before him and showed affirmation, recognition, love. He thanked the Lord. Luke 17:17 Jesus said, “Where are the other nine?” The others probably felt feelings of gratitude, feelings of love, felt feelings of recognition but they didn’t express them. Who in your life is doing a great job? Your spouse? Who in your business is doing a great job? Who on your team is doing a great job? Have you told them? Do you have the feelings but never verbalize them? “I didn’t have that growing up, my parents never told me I was doing a good job. I wouldn’t know what to say.” Say it! Or maybe you think you can’t compliment someone too much because they might get a big head. Nehemiah wasn’t worried about that issue. You see, most people who are on ego trips today were people who were never affirmed as children. They are trying so hard now to hear the applause. Or maybe you think that everything has to be just right, the timing, the place, etc. Or maybe you think that a compliment from you won’t make any difference. That is a bold faced lie. This congregation has been so encouraging to me as your pastor. The letters always come at a nick of time, at the right time, and they have really, really helped. Hey, go from this place and encourage, applaud, affirm, recognize and compliment others. Talk about the results of recognition, look at our man, Baruch in Nehemiah 3:20, “Baruch zealously repaired another section…” You know what the word zealously means? It is the only adverb used here in Nehemiah 3. It means to be full of God. Why was he full of God? I guarantee you, Nehemiah was cheering him on. There is nothing like recognition and affirmation.
How is the delegation thing going? How are you doing? God wants us all to take it up a notch. The dynamics are right here for us. All we have to do now is display them. Leadership begins with lordship, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He will always cast a vision in your life. Leadership beings with lordship and then it moves to stewardship. What kind of steward are you over the gift of leadership that God has given you? Leadership culminates through ownership. Do you own a certain vision? Do you own a particular plan? Are you giving it out? Are you delegating or are you trying to do everything yourself? Take a cue from Nehemiah. Delegate, delegate, delegate. And if you do that, you will never fall into the trap of the long danger.