As Maria von Trapp would say, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Open up to the first few pages in your Bible and you’ll see that delegation was one of the purposes for pre-fall humanity.
We read in Genesis 2 that one of God’s purposes for Adam was to take care of the Lord’s Garden. The Lord delegated this task to Adam. Next, we see the Lord delegate on behalf of Adam by creating his helper, Eve. Finally, we recognize that the Lord had delegated to Adam, Eve, and their descendants the task of being caretakers of the planet and everything on it.
Then the Lord took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it (Gen. 2:15).
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18).
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28-29).
Let’s jump from the beginning to the end. Turn to the last pages in your Bible, and you’ll see that delegation is one of the purposes for God’s angels. Angels are tasked with the prep work for the consummation of the Kingdom foretold in Revelation. Angels are serving in the work of the Lord in nearly every instance that they are mentioned in Scripture.
We jumped all the way from Genesis to Revelation to make this point: delegation is present throughout the entirety of Scripture, from first page to last. Here are a few familiar examples from the pages in between,
- Nehemiah delegated the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in perhaps the most important case study on leadership and delegation in all of Scripture.
- Jesus delegated the work of His Kingdom to His disciples after giving them power and authority (Luke 9:1-6, Mat. 28:18-29).
- The Holy Spirit delegates the work within the Church to each believer with appropriate giftings (1 Cor. 12).
- The apostles set the standard for practical delegation in Acts 6 when they appointed seven men to “serve tables” (Acts 6:1-6).
- The early church functioned with a plurality of elders as indicated throughout the NT (Acts 14:23).
- Paul delegated specific tasks to his disciples, such as leaving Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete to appoint elders and sustain order (See introductions to 1 Timothy, Titus).
Though I’d love to analyze Nehemiah’s leadership and astounding accomplishment, Moses offers us some practical applications. In Exodus 18 Moses receives both rebuke and advice from his father-in-law, Jethro. Moses was not delegating; he was acting as the sole judge over all of God’s people. Jethro gave him the blunt truth,
“The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone” (Exodus 18:17-18).
It’s been over 3,000 years since Jethro said that to Moses, yet the same needs to be said to many in ministry today. We know from Numbers 11 that Moses’ inability to delegate effectively caused problems for the Israelties and for him. The Israelites became weary of eating manna and traveling through the wilderness. In a very human response, Moses became so worn and depressed that he asked God to kill him."We know from Numbers 11 that Moses' inability to delegate effectively caused problems for the Israelites and for him." -Austin Pfrimmer #collegiatedisciplemaker God Delegates, Why Don’t You? Click To Tweet
God doesn’t need to delegate, yet He does
When we consider the attributes of God, we quickly realize that God doesn’t need to delegate at all. Attributes like omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence don’t exactly describe someone who needs help from others, yet we see God delegating throughout the entire history of His redemptive plan. I’d argue that even our understanding of the Trinity alludes to God’s delegatory character. The Trinity exists as three distinct persons within the same being or essence, each one delegated with particular attributes and functions. Stretch or not, we understand that delegation is at the heart of God’s redemptive plan, not only in the work of His people, but also in the spiritual work conducted by the Trinity and the angels.
Why does God delegate when he doesn’t need to? That’s a philosophical question I’d love to discuss over coffee, but for now, I’ll just pose the Sunday school answer: “because it’s His good pleasure to do so.” A deep dive into this question would further reveal the love God has for His people, the privilege we’ve been given as delegates of His will, and the depth of the riches of both His wisdom and knowledge. For now, we summarize our application with this convicting truth,
God doesn’t need to delegate, yet He does. You need to delegate, yet do you?