As we bring our “Live From Love” series to a close, we’re spending two weeks focusing on the life of the Old Testament King Josiah, the only man in the Scriptures described as loving “the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might.“(2 Kings 23:25) This past Sunday we talked about how our love for God leads to a life of ongoing repentance. In doing that, we skipped over some leadership development gold in 2 Kings 22:3-7 that I want to pick up on today. You’ll see it pretty easily as you read the text:
In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the Lord, saying, “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the Lord, repairing the house (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.”
Josiah is a master delegator. He empowers a team to do what he could never do on his own. He’s able to inspire a group of people to work together to accomplish a goal, which is foundational to effective leadership. Perhaps this kind of delegation is expected when renovating a temple – no one can do that on their own! But the reality is that we need to practice this kind of delegation frequently in our lives as leaders. Think of all the things we do every week as a church: lead 10 different community groups, load in and load out production equipment, lead worship, preach a sermon, disciple kids, serve our community, administer an organization, reach college students in DC, etc, etc, etc… I don’t think there’s one of us that really think we can do any one of those tasks on our own. But all too often we find ourselves trying to do what we know is impossible – take on a massive project without anyone else’s help.
If that’s you, then take a few minutes to consider the model Josiah gives us for effective delegation. His delegation is anchored in four key principles:
Josiah doesn’t leave it up to his team to decide what they’re going to accomplish. He fills the vision vacuum – they’re going to repair the temple. And He’s not just envisioning a minor facelift. They’re going to have to buy timber and quarried stone to get this done. He’s speaking into the aim and the scope of the project. That’s what good leaders do. Some leaders are so afraid of being called a micro-manager that they abdicate this part of the process. That’s not leadership. It’s the exact opposite. It’s abdicating leadership to someone else who will fill the vision vacuum you’re perpetuating.
Some leaders thing it’s enough to walk into a meeting, drop a little vision bomb and then check out completely. Not so fast there, little leader! Maybe you and your team have worked together for so long that they can take your vision and run with it. But you always need to stay engaged around the fundamental question of whether or not the team has the resources they need to execute the vision. Josiah deploys money, senior aids and resources to the project. He gives the team what they need to get the job done! That seems so simple when we read it in the abstract but I can’t tell you how many times I see leaders set their people up for failure by casting some glorious vision that the team has no chance of achieving because they lack the resources (money, time, people, skills, training or tools) they need to get it done. That’s not leadership. That’s just frustrating people.
Freedom To Execute
As much as Josiah leans into the vision and resource conversation, he leans out of the strategy and tactics conversation. He realizes that the carpenters, builders and masons know a heck of a lot more about renovating a temple than he does. So, he does one of the hardest things for a leader to do. He shuts his mouth and lets others take it from there. He lets his team do the job he’s called them to do and he gets out of their way. If you violate this principle, this is when people will call you a micro-manager. To put it even more bluntly, this is when you prove that you aren’t really a leader. You’re more of a taskmaster with a lot of assistants. Trust me, you don’t want to go down that road. You can’t possibly be an expert on every area of a project. So, if you insist on calling all the shots, you’re insisting on an inferior result.
In a leadership move that must have driven his accounting department crazy, Josiah tells the workers not to worry about saving their receipts. He trusts them to buy the right materials, in the right quantity to get the job done. He trusts they aren’t going to take some home for their back patio. He trusts that they aren’t going to be lining Uncle Al’s pockets with some kickbacks. He gives them cash and tells them to get it done.
Granted, most of us aren’t going to go that far (and good stewardship requires some financial integrity) but don’t miss out on the significance of what Josiah is doing. He’s looking for concrete ways to tell his guys that he trusts them. Most leaders pay lip service to the idea of trusting their people. Josiah knew he needed to find specific ways to communicate that trust. In his case, that meant no receipts. In ours it might mean allowing people to make decisions, be flexible in their work schedules, feel valued even when they make a mistake or not have us hovering over their shoulders every minute of the day.
Josiah shows us what it looks like for a leader to lean in at the right time and lean out at the right time. He does it all to bring about a goal far beyond what he could do on his own. That’s God’s call for all of us who are leaders. Let’s follow Josiah’s example and be real delegators.