THE BIG D
February 24, 2007
Delegation without investigation is merely relegation. Let me take this sip of espresso after that statement. Isn’t it true that so often all of us try to do too many things? And you’ve heard it said a squillion times: The good is the enemy of the great. We’ve heard that and we believe that. And if we could poll this audience most of us would say, “You know what, here are my priorities.” And the majority of us would agree, we would nod, we would say yes, those are my priorities. But if we had to list in another column our commitments there’s this gap, this delta separating our priorities from our commitments. A lot of us are working hard but maybe we’re hardly working. It is so easy these days, isn’t it? I struggle with this all the time, to get so involved with the superfluous of life, the things of the world, that you miss sometimes doing that one thing. You miss the significance the value of truly living.
Last time I started a series called “The Big D” and “The Big D” is all about delegation. And we learned something about these steps right here. We said that as you think about life, as you think about discovering the greatness that God has for your agenda, everybody thinks those “what if” thoughts. What if I tried that? What if I tackled that opportunity? What if? What if? What if?
This step is a step of vision, a step of maybe seeing the unseen. And if we’re going to think “what if” thoughts; if we’re going to be wise parents and wise spouses and wise students and coaches and real estate executives, then we’re going to think “what if” thoughts. And from there we’re going to go to delegation. Now the majority of people when you say to delegate they say, I’m great at that, Phi Beta Kappa at delegation, out of sight, out of mind, off my plate. I’ll option this responsibility to my oldest son. I’ll option that responsibility to my assistant. I’ll throw that ball to maybe a receiver. I’m great at delegation. But as I said earlier, delegation without investigation is merely relegation.
When we move from “what if” to delegation, after delegation we move to “what is.” We move from the intangible to the tangible. The tangible is something we can measure, it’s something that we can see, and it’s something that we can deal with. So if I’m going to go from the intangible to the tangible I’m going to go from “what if” to “what is.” And once it becomes “what is” it is ‑‑ say it with me ‑‑ what it is. That’s right, it is what it is. We say that all the time.
But if we’re going to keep on climbing the ladder, if we’re going to keep on this stair master because Jesus is the Master of the Stairs, we have to go to something that is ugly, that is difficult, that we don’t like to talk about, but is the real guts and the substance behind delegation. It is investigation. I don’t like that part. I am pretty good at talking about “what if.” I’m decent at I’m going to delegate. “What is,” it is what it is. I can measure that and look at that and study that and do some analysis there but investigation, it is ugly, I kind of run from it. But I want to challenge you to think with me for a second, what is delegation. Delegation is investigation. If it’s worth doing it’s worth delegating; yet, delegation without investigation is merely relegation.
Our great God is a God of delegation, it’s throughout Scripture. Many times we don’t think about it. I think a lot of people think delegation was invented by someone from the Harvard Business School or someone from Money Magazine or someone who was writing for Fast Company or some other leadership type guru. Delegation, though, was invented by God. It’s in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Three in one, one in three. God the Father delegated to God the Son the salvation of the world. God the Son delegated conviction and comfort to God the Holy Spirit. Equal in form, different in function.
Marriage is the same. There’s delegation within marriage. Equal in form, different in function. So I would challenge you to think about delegation in every phase of life. If you’re a single parent, you better get this down. If you’re a husband or wife, you better get this down. If you’re a child, a student, you better take some notes. If you’re in the business world, you better really understand this because this stuff is straight from God. Now, last time I just gave you a brief introduction of delegation. Today, I want to get into the Scriptures because I want to show you the classic text on delegation. If you have your Bibles turn to the book of Exodus. Exodus chapter 18 because we’re going to look at a man you have probably heard about before, Moses. Have you seen the movie? Not Charlton Heston, I’m talking about Moses, the real deal. Moses learned a great lesson on delegation. Moses was the reluctant leader. He thought, “God I know you’re calling me. I know you’re telling me to do this and that but I can’t speak. I can’t lead my way out of a paper sack. I just can’t do the deal.” And so often God uses people who are the most unlikely people in the world to do phenomenal things. Moses was available to God. Maybe he didn’t have all the ability but he had the availability. And when we’re available God can take our stuff and multiply it exponentially and that’s what Moses was doing.
So again, stay with me now, Moses traveled and broke his people out of Egyptian slavery. He’s camped around Mount Sinai, and Jethro shows up. That’s right, Jethro. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. Moses had worked for his father-in-law; I have to take a real big sip now, for 40 years. He was in the family business and you know it was challenging. Forty years he was working in the desert. Forty long years he was working for Jethro. Jethro was the priest of a place called Midian.
Jethro had heard about what God had done through his people; obviously Jethro knew that Moses was God’s anointed and appointed. Jethro shows up, brings Moses’ wife and kids with him in tow and this is where we have this conversation, this unique interchange about The Big D: Delegation. But here is the tension: Okay, father-in-law talking to the son-in-law. I mean, there is already some tension in the air. It is just built in. You can’t get away from it. Did Moses listen? Now that’s a good question. Did he listen? Did he listen?
When people speak into your life and mine, do we listen? Yes, we hear. Man, I hear you. Girl, I hear you. Do we listen? Hearing is a little bit passive. Listening, though, is action. We’re on point. We’re ready to do the deal. We’re ready to take the information and apply it. So that is the question. So for the next couple of minutes let me be your Jethro. Let me teach you from the Scriptures what God’s Word says about The Big D: Delegation. Because remember, delegation without investigation is merely relegation. If you want to go from “what if” to “what is,” from “what if” to “what is,” if you want to keep climbing the ladder you have to do this.
Have you ever wondered why the StepMill or the StairMaster is the least used machine in any gymnasium or any healthy club you have ever seen? There is no one on the StairMaster. There is usually not a line for the StepMill. You know why? Because it will kick your rear. It’s hard. And this is, I’m telling you, Christianity 301, I don’t know, 401 maybe 501 here. Let’s look at Exodus 18:8. The Bible says Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done. Well Jethro shows up, they have this conversation and Moses says, “Jethro, let me tell you what God has done. He has done this and that miracle and he released us from slavery and it was just phenomenal. Isn’t it great to have a relationship like this?” Isn’t it awesome to be able to share your heart and your life with someone like this? Isn’t it great to have a Jethro, somewhere where there is affinity and also accountability? Because being able to share what the Lord has done in your life, becoming able to share how the Lord has delivered you provide the context for true accountability, for true stuff to be learned.
Accountability is very misconstrued and misunderstood. Accountability always emerges from affinity. Say it with me, accountability emerges from affinity. I have to have an affinity with the person. I have to love the person; not because what they have or don’t have but for whom they are and whose they are. And that’s what our boy Jethro did. Jethro loved Moses and Moses respected him and as they shared this stuff and as Moses began to unload on him, here is what God has done, boom. There you have this phenomenal potential for some stuff to happen because the Bible says iron sharpens iron. All of us are leaders. All of us are influencers. And Moses is beginning to hear some tough, tough words. Look at verse 13, it says, “The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge,” let’s say it together, “for the people.” Now that’s interesting. “And they stood around him from morning until evening.”
So in The Living Bible it says as usual Moses took his seat from morning until evening hearing all of the disputes and the whining and the murmurings and the grumblings and bumblings from all of the people. It just makes me tired to think about it. But Moses thought I’m the only guy who can do it. I’m the man. I have the gifts. I have the abilities. If you want it done right you have to do it yourself. Well that’s convicting, isn’t it? Well that’s what happened. As usual he did that, as usual.
The Bible says several times, the people were just standing around. Moses was doing all the work and the people were just standing around. It’s interesting to watch how people stand around. Have you ever watched how people stand around? Some have really bad posture. Others stand around like this, and kind of flex their muscles. Some stand around leaning on stuff. “What are you doing, man?” “Man, I’m just standing around.” That’s the question I want to ask you today. How are you standing and who is standing around you? Because I would argue that some of the standup people in your life are people who are just standing around. Some of the greatest leaders in your company, some of the best performers on your team, in the classroom, in the church, in the office are just standing around. “I am doing everything, man, I am on my CrackBerry, I am making the calls, I’m the man, I’m the woman.” And you feel like you’re drowning. If you feel like you’re drowning, if you feel like you’re too busy, I’m telling you, you’re not delegating. And here is the question to ask yourself: Who is standing around?
When we began Fellowship Church, as I said, I was the only staff member. I was it. And out of my naivety and stupidity I began to look at all these people who were just standing around. And I had this phenomenal idea, this epiphany. I will give the ball of ministry to the people. We can’t pay them. They’re just standing around; yet, they’re going to begin to share the load and do the stuff. So we built this environment of leadership, this environment of sharing, this environment of “what if,” delegation, “what is,” investigation. And the rest is his story, right? It’s his story.
So this is a biblical thing. Do you have someone in your life? Do you have a Jethro who can speak into your life? Someone in your life who loves the Lord? Someone in your life who trusts God? Someone in your life who is a man or woman of integrity? Are you hearing them? Don’t do that. You better listen. You better listen. Look at verse 14. I love verse 14. You’re talking about investigation. Jethro got up into Moses’ grill. He smelled his cologne. Maybe he wore Jovan, I don’t know. “When his father-in-law” ‑‑ some of you will get that later ‑‑ “when his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people.” I’m just for the people. People want this, and I’m just for the people. I just have to do what the people want me to do. Jethro, listen my brother; I’m just doing what they wanted. I’m a servant of the people. What they want is someone to listen to them, to be available to them 24/7.
Leaders don’t take people where they want to go; they take people where they need to go. Leaders don’t think, let me see which way the wind is blowing. Let me put together some kind of think tanks and focus groups. Now, okay they want this so I guess now I’ll lead. That’s not leadership. That’s not it. Leaders take people where they need to go, not where they want to go. For example, we have only taken one survey in the history of Fellowship Church, only one. And this survey was taken years and years ago. It was taken by a great group of people. Well, when we read the results of the survey what the people wanted child care and teaching to be like, what they wanted the student ministry to be like, what they wanted the pastor to be like, the kind of content they wanted me to speak about, what they wanted the music to sound like, we read through all of these sheets of paper, this survey. And we were like, wow. This is unbelievable. And as I read the results I said get out of town. We’re doing the exact opposite of what the church wants. Isn’t that awesome? We are leading. And our church had about 300 people then. Wow. If we had done, when we started Fellowship Church, what the people wanted we would have about 300 people showing up. And that’s what happened right here to our boy Moses.
When I read this it whacked me upside my big ol’ bucket head. “When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people he said, and these are two huge questions, write these down, “what is this you’re doing for the people?” And then number two, “Why do you alone sit as judge while all these people?” There we go, “stand around?” Who in your life is just ‑‑ a child? Spouse? Someone in the next cubicle at the office? Who is just standing around? What is this you’re doing? And number two, and why do you alone sit as judge? Those are some great questions to ask yourself. What are you doing? I ask myself that sometimes. “Ed, what are you doing?” Because a lot of people are working hard but a lot of people are hardly working. What are you doing? And why do you alone sit as judge while all these other people just stand around? And here is what Moses was doing. And he didn’t realize it because he didn’t get it. And so often it takes a Jethro from the outside to look in to see what’s right in front of our face but because we’re involved in it we don’t even see it. It’s like we can’t see the forest because of the trees. Well Moses was the first vision vandal. That’s right, the first vision vandal. He was robbing himself of all of these amazing leadership gifts and aptitudes and abilities that he should have developed and taken to the next level. He was robbing himself. He was also robbing all those people who were just standing around. I mean, what are we supposed to do here? We’re supposed to lead as many people as possible to Jesus. Also people say I want to leave a legacy. I want my life to matter. That’s what I want. It’s about The Big D. It’s about delegation. Delegation, investigation, delegation, investigation, investigation, delegation. That’s what Jethro was doing. What are you doing Moses and why do you alone, Moses, why do you alone sit as judge?
And it’s interesting, too, to look at the evolution of Moses’ leadership. He started with the people then he got in front of the people then he got above the people. You see, there are seasons in leadership. There are seasons in parenting. There are seasons in coaching. Let’s go back to the steps. This StepMill will just kick your rear. It’s hard, isn’t it? “What if?” “What if?” “What if?” Vision, what if I built that or tried that? What if I started that? What if I ask her out? What if? Delegation, okay, boom, delegation, it is. It is what it is. Something now is tangible. I can measure it. I can see if it’s the real deal or not. And if I’m going to do that I have to get involved in this stuff that is so nasty many times. We want to run from it but we have to do it because God does it all the time. And one day for all of us believers it’s going to be the big beam‑a‑seat of investigation. Yes, we’re going to go to heaven but we’re going to be evaluated and investigated. So that’s why we better do it with each other here. Investigation.
Now let me sit on this step for just a while. Why do we ignore this step? Because, we do. I mean, I don’t like it, you don’t like it, no one likes investigation. Let’s talk about delegation until the cows come home. “I like step two, Ed, but step four will wear me out. I don’t dig it.” It’s not popular. Well, why do we run away from investigation? Well, that is easy. There are three reasons. Number one, conflict. No one likes conflict. And if someone does, hey man I like conflict, you’re lying. No, you don’t. No one likes conflict. Conflict is horrible. I don’t like it. Conflict, that’s one of the reasons that we don’t like investigation. We don’t like delegation, true delegation, is conflict. I have to sit down with this person and eyeball this person and look at this person and ask this person hard questions. I just don’t like that. Conflict.
Number two, chaos. Chaos. It just creates chaos. What is chaos? It is just chaos. Things go crazy. Things get funky. Emotional chaos, spiritual chaos and physical chaos; we just don’t like chaos, nor do you but chaos can become your friend, your buddy, your pal, your girl, your homey. It can, if you treat it right. Chaos is not bad. Chaos can be good but you have conflict then chaos. Too much chaos, what this investigation might uncover, what might result from it, man it just freaks me out. And the third one and we really hate this one, that was good, carnage. Oh my goodness, if I investigate there is going to be carnage. I might have to fire the person. I might have to release the person. I might have to move the person out. I might have to make some serious changes relationally. I might have to challenge my kids like I have never challenged them before. And man, that’s the reason. I’m telling you, this is Christianity; I’m talking about really mature stuff here. This is it. What if, people go to conferences and churches. You can sell books all day long about “what if,” delegation. Oh boy let’s have a conference on delegation and write another book. It is what it is, that’s good. I like that. Something tangible, we love the material here in America. Investigation? Forget it; I’m not going to do that. But think about it, if we don’t check up on people, what do they do? They will just check out. People don’t do what you expect as we have always heard, only what you inspect. I am the same way and so are you. Investigation, though, I’m telling you, this step will become your friend. It is difficult. It is tough. But as you face it, as you tackle it, it will build character and stuff. You will see who the posers are versus the players, not the playas but the players. You will see what position and what area you should move certain people into because of this. And it will help you and serve you well. So then you have this beautiful StepMill, this StairMaster going on. “What if,” delegation, “what is,” investigation.
Well let’s see how Moe did it. Because when you have conflict, you’re going to have the hard conversations, right? When you have chaos it is chaotic. What if they leave my company or leave the staff or leave the church? That’s okay. The moment people stop leaving is the moment you stop leading. That’s a whole other message. Look at verse 15. I will never forget one time in the early days I noticed people were leaving Fellowship Church and it began to freak me out. And I was speaking at this conference and I saw this renowned Bible teacher and pastor, if I mention his name almost all of you will know it. And I walked up to him and I said, “Excuse me,” I said, “Dr. *pppfffrrrr*, do people ever leave your church?” And he has this huge church. He was buttoning his jacket and he said, “Leave my church? All the time.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “You’re kidding me, they leave your church?” He said, “Yes all the time.” I said, “Well what do they say?” “They say they’re not getting fed and it’s not deep enough.” He said, “That’s interesting because I just spent the last year and a half going through the book of Romans and I just preached through every book in the Bible except two.” Wow. People are going to leave. They’ll leave your company, leave your team, that’s okay. Just love everybody. Don’t swim with the bottom feeders and swim with the swimmers.
Moses answered him; again we’re going back to Jethro now, not Bodean. Some of you about went to sleep just then. I’m talking about Moses’ father-in-law. Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to see God’s will.” Look at verse 16. “Whenever they have a dispute it’s brought to me and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.” When I have tried to control stuff, my life quickly becomes out of control. Can you identify with that, people who are control freaks? And I’m a control freak a little bit but when I get too controlling, I am just totally out of control. And you’re probably the same way.
Why, though, do we go Moses? Because we have all done that. Maybe you’re doing that right now. You’re trying to do everything yourself; you’re not delegating; it’s just all about you; I can do it; I’m the man; I’m the woman. Why do we have a hard time with this? Two things: Number one, fear. No one can do it like me. Number two, pride. What if I delegate and they do it better? I don’t know, what if they do it? You multiply yourself and you become better and better and better. That’s what I say.
Verse 17, again Jethro, “What you’re doing is not good.” This guy was telling him, wasn’t he? Verse 18, “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.” In the Hebrew, I don’t have time to explain it all, but literally it means to grow old before your time. Now I don’t want to do that, do you? No one does. We’re obsessed with not growing old. All the cosmetic procedures, and nipping and tucking and liposuctioning our way into oblivion. We don’t want to grow old before our time. Well I don’t want to do that and you don’t either.
If we try to do everything ourselves and go Moses and become superman or superwoman it’s not going to happen. He says here, “It is too heavy for you. You can’t handle it alone.” Again, are you drowning? Are you going under? If you are, you’re on the verge of burning out. And too many leaders burn out. Too many leaders take a swan dive into the cesspool of rebellion. And what is so crazy about it is, they’re praying and reading their Bible. A lot of them are working out and eating properly. What’s the deal? I mean, physically and spiritually everything is cool.
There’s an emotional facet to life that a lot of people forget about and if we can allow it we can become so burnt out and we can feed and get so high on the adrenaline rush and the adrenaline recovery and the adrenaline rush again that all of the sudden we’re weak, we’re vulnerable to things we normally wouldn’t do.
That’s why we so often over eat and over sex and over spend. It’s that quick fix when our adrenaline is low and we’re emotionally down. Just talk to Lisa. I get down. I’m talking about, I feel down and sort of depressed after every weekend, every single weekend. That’s why I have to disconnect about once every four to six weeks. If not, I will fry myself. Because speaking five times a weekend and then usually two out of four weeks a month I’m traveling somewhere and speaking. I have to watch this gauge. I have stresses on my life, pressures on my life that you don’t have. You have stresses, you have pressures on your life that I don’t have. So we have to watch those gauges, that spiritual gauge, that physical gauge and that emotional gauge and I know Jethro was saying, “Moses, you’re going to grow old before your time. You’re going to get depressed, despondent, you’re going to be very vulnerable here.” So what a great word. “It is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone.”
We can’t do leadership alone, can we? We can’t do marriage alone, can we? We can’t do life alone, can we? We can’t do parenting alone, can we? We can’t do financial planning alone, can we? We have to help one another and that’s where the church comes in. Oh man, we have to go now, time is slipping away. Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future.
That’s about as good as that song gets, that line. And I think my boy Steve Miller stole that from the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon said that about 3,000 years before Steve was even a twinkle in his father’s eye.
Verse 19 ‑‑ our reaction time was a little slow. That’s okay. That’s all right. I’m the same way. You need some espresso. Let me have one more sip and this will take us to the barn, I can feel it now. We’re spurring the horse to the barn right now. We’re almost done, okay?
Verse 19, “You must be the people’s representative.” Okay, love that line, verse 19. You must be the people’s representative. Do you know what Jethro was doing? He was saying, this is what you need to do. So often in my life, the mentors in my life help me to clarify my role. Do you have somebody ‑‑ again I’m just being your Jethro for 33 minutes and 58 seconds. Do you have someone in your life to help you clarify your role? Because if you don’t, I hate to use this worn out cliché, you can’t see the forest because of the trees. “You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him. Teach them” ‑‑ this is great ‑‑ “Teach them the decrees. Show them the way to live.” I like that, the way to live. “And the duties they are to perform.” Leadership is measured more by your absence than your participation. Don’t tell me how your deal goes when you’re their coach, teacher, pastor, doctor, nurse, or attorney. Don’t tell me that. Tell me how it goes when you’re not there. I mean that’s great Fellowship Church, this and that when I’m there speaking all the time. But I love to see what happens to Fellowship Church when I’m not here. And for example, I try to take off a several weeks in the summer, sometimes four to five straight weeks, sometimes six weeks just to recover, just to become a normal person. And inevitably I will see people when I come back and they will be like I joined Fellowship Church and never even heard you talk. And then I look at some of the statistics of Fellowship Church and Fellowship Church grows so often when I’m not even here. That’s what I want. And in so many areas of Fellowship Church we’re seeing that. So we’re about empowerment. We’re about “what if?” We’re about delegation. We’re about “what is.” We’re about investigation because it doesn’t happen with just “what if?” It doesn’t happen with just delegation. It doesn’t happen with just it is what it is. It happens with investigation. It happens as we take the steps and that’s very, very exciting. He says, “Show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” He says, “Teach them.”
Let me talk just for a second. I have to do this about our educational system. Now I know we have many great teachers, principals, head masters and you guys and gals do a phenomenal job in your areas. But generally speaking, generally speaking our educational system pretty much teaches people how to memorize and regurgitate. You memorize and you regurgitate. You score really well on the SAT and ACT, good for you, you can get into an Ivy League school. Good for you. And you get to the Ivy League schools and again memorize, regurgitate. We no longer teach people how to think anymore. It’s unbelievable. I meet all these people in my travels; they have this degree and that degree. And they have gone to this or that school and they can’t even think. And do you know why? Because by and large our educational system no longer has absolutes. Truth now is relative. And we just float on the seas of relativism. We can memorize really well.
We can regurgitate really well. We can’t think. That’s where the church comes in. That’s where the children’s ministry comes in. That’s where the student ministry comes in. That’s where we come in, parents. We have to show our kids how to think. So we teach them the decrees and we show them how to live. Wow, I like that. I have some more stuff to share but I can’t. We’re totally out of time and they’re telling me, stop.