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Repenting of my task hoarding

Too much
This truck driver may have taken on more than she/he can handle.

We general practitioner associate pastors can become awfully adept at collecting tasks. We may have a line at the bottom of our job description that says something like, “Other duties as determined by the pastor,” and accumulated a load of those other duties. Or we may have slipped into “caulk ministry,” making sure nothing falls through the cracks, and collected several more little jobs. Some of us, and I’m looking in the mirror here, have become hoarders of those tasks, always collecting more without ever letting go of any one of them. Our workday has become so crammed full we don’t know how we get through the week. Sometimes we need to sort through our collections to decide what should stay and what has to go.

In recent weeks, I’d been feeling overwhelmed with all I needed to do. At first I thought it was the post-Christmas funk, but a staff meeting reminded me of two new leadership tasks coming my way soon. It was time to begin sorting through responsibilities, finding good homes for some of the things I do.

I decided to let go of two tasks for different reasons. You may find these helpful to consider.

The first was simple to spot. I have been the builder of our worship service slides for years. This is a fairly straightforward administrative task which needs to be completed each week. I like it, and I’m good at it, but I don’t need to be the one doing it.

I approached the person who has built the slides when I have been on vacation to see if it was something she would be willing to do each week. I was surprised and thrilled when she immediately said she would. When I spoke to her recently, fearful she was a bit overwhelmed, she told me she was loving the work, even getting lost in it. What a blessing that turned out to be for both of us.

Many of us perform administrative tasks which we could easily train someone else to do. Maybe it is attendance, or keeping track of participant accounts, or maybe it is making sure there is a snack at every meeting. Not only will letting it go help you, the person(s) who then take it on for you will be given the opportunity to use their gifts in service to Christ and the church.

The second was a bit more difficult to spot. Over the past several years I have been blessed with young adults helping with our youth ministry. Several of these young adults are trained to work with youth as educators and in social service fields. Slowly I had been giving them more responsibility, to the point where my primary role was providing them with curriculum to use each Sunday night, which they would then carry out. In addition, they are leading high school small groups, taking youth out to lunch, attending their plays and sporting events, and doing all the work of an exceptional youth leader. So I met with a couple of them and asked if they would be willing to take take the next step, planning the youth meetings.

This was a hard one for me. Youth ministry is something I have felt called to for almost 20 years. So this was not something I didn’t think I needed to do. But God has placed these exceptional people in my life and in the congregation, and they were not being used to the fullness of their ability. By enlarging their sphere of responsibility, I am helping them grow in their discipleship. My role now is equipping them to be the best youth leaders they can be by sharing my experience.

Many of us have gifted people around us to whom we could give more responsibility. Expanding the role of these exceptional young people has not only freed me up to work in other areas, it is also giving them opportunities to grow as servants of Jesus Christ who are giving of themselves to the youth of the congregation. And it is already improving the youth ministry.

When sharing these shifts in my responsibilities with our children’s minister, I joked, “I’m working myself right out of a job!” She replied, “Isn’t that the point?” I guess it is. We build a ministry, then equip others to carry it on while we go build something else. To do this, we cannot be afraid to let go. When we stop hoarding tasks we allow others to use their gifts in service to Christ and the church, and we are freed to pursue other areas of ministry.

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