To DIY or Delegate?
The other morning during my quiet time I read in Exodus about Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro, advising him to delegate some of his burden to trusted men who fear God and are not susceptible to bribes. While reading, I thought about how Jethro advised Moses to set up a workable government in its most simplistic form by instructing him to “...place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens”. This pulled me in so many ways regarding government, public servants, things going wrong in our nation right now, the weight that Moses carried in service to so many people, what God requires of us… But my prayer companion devotional for today’s reading went in a different direction. It spoke of the need to delegate.
This devotional pulls one scripture from my daily reading, provides a short devotion, a prayer, and a quote. I love little books like this! Today’s devotion focused on Exodus 18:17-18 which is Jethro's warning to Moses about bearing such a burden alone and the risk of burnout. Several people sprang to mind as I considered how Jethro may have delivered this warning. I can imagine that it wasn’t a calm, ‘Oh hey, Moses, just FYI’ kind of warning. I mean the Bible does include exclamation points here!!!
Then I considered the situation from Moses’s perspective. How long was he settling disputes, answering questions, and teaching about God’s law for thousands of people?? I don’t know about ya’ll, but sometimes I hide in the bathroom for a momentary reprieve from settling disputes and answering questions between two kids - not a nation of however-many-thousands of people. How weary was he? Was it easy to heed Jethro’s advice or did he struggle to delegate the task to others and share the burden? Scripture says he considered it and judged the advice to be reasonable and did as Jethro advised. What would I have done?
Do you struggle between DIY and delegating?
I often do. That made me wonder why. Isn’t the job easier if people are helping? Why would I hesitate to enlist trusted individuals so we can divide and conquer? Is it a trust issue? A control issue? A fear of inconveniencing someone? Fear of being told “no” (aaahhh rejections!)? Or dare I ask, is it a pride issue?
Unfortunately for me, It's an ugly combination of all these issues. I would love to excuse some of them away with ‘oh but my past experiences and childhood traumas’ or even a glib ‘if you want something done right…’. Or maybe I could blame it on my shyness or even a desire to be polite and have a strong work ethic. But if I’m honest and transparent, it all boils down to my sin - namely pride.
When thinking through past circumstances where I have refused to delegate, which would have blessed others by allowing them to participate in Kingdom service, it was truly my desire to maintain control, avoid any possible confrontation or correction, and (please skip over this shameful next part) get the credit and play the martyr for doing it all with little help.
Looking back on one particular project, and thinking about the gifts that God has given some of the specific people who would have joyfully contributed so much, I realize what all I sinfully denied them and those who benefitted from the project. Every time I’ve gone the route of rebellious DIY-er, I have typically quietly reveled in the glory of my efforts and any praise received as a result, while also feeling the weariness of self-inflicted burnout. How terribly prideful!
This led me to consider other areas in my life where I feel weary or suffer from burnout. At one point, and if I’m not careful now, I can see it in my job. The unpaid overtime, the perfectionism, the “I’m fine” façade. I also see this in my parenting/homemaking. Even to the point that I make myself weary with all the extra to make my husband feel guilty because I’m upset with him or wanting him to voluntarily do something I’ve just made up that he hasn’t figured out yet. Of course, he gets no free hints about this totally made-up tasker. Or maybe it's a legit need but just not on his radar. Let me be helpful by nearly killing myself to do that and everything else, then throwing all kinds of shade and shame at my husband, which makes him feel awful. But, hey I get to play the damsel-in-distress/victim/martyr and that feels great in the moment, right? I’m so sorry, Mack! There are other areas I’m sure.
When we find ourselves with the opportunity to delegate tasks to others, we have been placed in a position with some level of authority. This means that God has favored me with the privilege of being placed in leadership positions and many times I have sacrificed them on the altar of my own ego and pride. My prayer book says that
“delegation is the most effective form of leadership. It fosters maturity in potential leaders and provides a wider foundation of talents for meeting diverse needs.”
I can’t honestly say that I didn’t realize that my behavior was sinful, but I don’t think I realized how deeply it reflects on my spiritual maturity and witness. Ugh! What’s wrong with me?!
Please don’t hear me saying that if you are tired or overworked that this applies to you. I have no way of knowing your circumstances. Please don’t hear me comparing Moses to my nastiness, either. I’m sure he didn’t complicate delegation as I have. I’m thankful that this part of his story and my prayer prompt lead me to reflect on how this plays out in my life.
Why would I share this here? A few reasons:
I’m supposed to confess. I’m hopeful that some of my trusted brothers and sisters in Christ will read this and intercede on my behalf. I really like what gotquestions.org has to say about confessing our sins to one another.
I need to be honest with myself. God has revealed these otherwise glossed over sins in my life and I find it helpful to write out my thought process as an act of reflection and confession.
Accountability. If you see this nastiness in me, please, I’m begging you, love me enough to call me out. Even if it hurts me, or in my flesh, I lash out at you. I’ll do my best to love you just as fiercely. I believe one of the most loving things we can do for fellow believers is to point them away from sin and back to Christ. We are supposed to sharpen one another and speak the truth with love.
Maybe, I’m not the only one. If you struggle with Rebellious DIY-ism (just made that up), maybe this will be helpful to you as well.
I’m going to stop here and pray for all of us who struggle in this area. Love ya’ll!
You are forgiving. You desire us to come to you with confession and repentance. Help us with the sins with which we have become so comfortable that we don’t even notice them anymore. You tell us to ask You, Lord, for wisdom and You will give it generously. I am asking for your wisdom, Father, in every situation where delegation is needed. Thank You for the example of Moses. Help us to be receptive to wise counsel like he was. Forgive us for ever squandering your divine opportunities to satisfy our flesh’s desire to have recognition or to stroke our own egos. Strengthen us in those situations that are difficult but ours to do ourselves without earthly help. Give us the wisdom to know the difference between what we are to DIY or delegate. Help us to never depend on our own strength, but to know that You are always with us. I pray that we would seek You first in every circumstance. Grow us into strong servant leaders as well as respectful and willing followers. Thank You for Your loving patience.
In the name of our Precious Savior,