3 Things I Learned in My Struggle to Delegate

Guest Post by Jennifer Layte

I am too young to lead. Too inexperienced. Too comfortable backseat driving. I gave these excuses to downplay and ignore the fact that, whether I liked it or not, I kept being thrust into positions of leadership throughout all the odd jobs I had worked during my twenties and early thirties.

At age 36, I received my first shot at something resembling an actual career—Director of Christian Education—at a nearly 200-year-old church in New England. This church holds a lot of tradition, fond memories, and high expectations. They entrusted me with the task to restart the church’s youth group from scratch. I needed volunteers to help me with the rebuild. But I didn’t yet know what I needed them to do, because I did not have a clear idea about what I needed to do. Thus, a long period of trial and error ensued.

The numbers of both teens and volunteers for the youth group fluctuated dramatically each week. The volunteers seemed frustrated, angry, or unsatisfied. They said I would not let them do anything. So I, in turn, became overwhelmed imagining that their happiness and the future of the youth group rested entirely on my shoulders. I thought that if I did not do absolutely everything myself, I would be perceived as not doing my job. But what I ultimately needed to do was delegate.

It took years, volunteer turnover, and a lot of practice to learn to delegate effectively. And I am still learning; however, in the process I have discovered a few things that have significantly helped me.


Here are 3 things I learned through my struggle to delegate:

1. Have the Same Vision

I learned a lot about how to be a “Director” who actually directs. You can work on the same project with your volunteers, yet have different objectives or, at least, very different philosophies about those objectives.  As a leader, you need to  communicate your vision effectively, in order to be on the same page with your team. This communication will help your volunteers own the vision along with you–fostering a culture of trust.

When you set a foundation of trust, you and your volunteers can advocate for each other, and you will feel increasingly confident to delegate tasks.

When you set a foundation of trust, you and your volunteers can advocate for each other Click To Tweet

2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Your dream for your people may be bigger than just you, and it should be. Take the risk. Be willing to experience the failure of doing something much too big for just one person. This will put you in a situation where you have no choice, but to delegate. This just might be the moment where you discover you can trust your volunteers after all.

Be willing to experience the failure of doing something much too big for just one person. Click To Tweet

3. Have Confidence

At the end of the day, you cannot let your volunteers or anyone else shine until you are confident in your own role. If you have been called to a position of leadership, trust that God knew His plan for you when you accepted the role. Maybe the people who chose you knew, too. If it’s not clear already, someday you will see the reason you are leading for “such a time as this.”

You will find it helpful to have the advocacy and support of others. Yet, until you are confident in your own purpose and role, you will find it difficult (if not impossible) to relinquish the reins to other people. Once you possess that confidence, you can delegate with grace, with peace, and with joy.

Once you possess that confidence, you can delegate with grace, with peace, and with joy. Click To Tweet

Let us learn from you and your experiences. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned through the process of delegation? Let us know in the comments below.


Jennifer Layte, formerly Jennifer Grosser, is a church worker who has worked with churches and refugees in East London. She is the author of the book “Trees in the Pavement” and writes at www.thatsajennstory.com.

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