Why church leaders should steer clear from DIY

How many times have you heard that old adage, ‘If you want a job done well, do it yourself!’ We can all identify with those moments when we have passed responsibility to someone to complete a task, lead a meeting, pass on a message, only to find that the people we had asked didn’t understand what was being asked of them, didn’t communicate with the energy required or simply didn't turn up.

Often our reaction as leaders is I’ll just do it myself next time, we reinforce the concept that important tasks need to be held closely. This approach to leadership, if unchecked can lead to a paralysis. The leader becomes so busy and bombarded with tasks that there is no head space let alone time to take on anything else. In effect a lid is placed on our leadership and we limit the potential of the ministry we are leading and the people we lead.

Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to Great’ refers to the ‘Genius with one thousand helpers’ somebody who makes the leadership of an organisation all about themselves and expects everything to hinge on them. This also places a lid on the growth of churches and the people within them. The biggest challenge to this style of leadership is that because the leader cannot do everything, they end up not doing the thing that only they can do.

Perhaps an alternative to the ‘Do It Yourself’ approach to take is; ‘If you want what you do to last…. Do it with others.’ A leader who wants or needs to be involved in everything has a vision that is too small.

One myth that needs to be busted when it comes to delegation is that to delegate isn’t just about getting things off your plate. If the leader simply passes on tasks they don't want they will fail to engender the support of the team.

So what are the barriers that prevent leaders letting go?

Who is there to help? – one challenge a church leader often faces is not how to get people involved but rather ‘who can I involve?’ People are too busy, not willing, perhaps, not capable to carry the weight of responsibility. Often the challenge here is that we start looking for the volunteers too late. The vision is already formed and the task is set, fully incubated in the leaders mind. If we can seek to recruit people earlier and involve them in the development of ideas people are often far more willing and equipped to continue with something they have influenced and shaped from the start.

It wasn’t done the way I wanted…

Sometimes as leaders for very good reasons we have very clear ideas of what we are trying to achieve. If it can be seen in our own mind we assume others can also see it and know exactly what we expect. Communication is a vital part of releasing others. As well as passing on key information it is essential that we also communicate values, this allows people flexibility to use their own skills and creativity within an appropriate framework.


If we are honest with ourselves sometimes we hold onto responsibility because it makes us feel important, we like to be at the hub of what is happening. Unhealthy leadership can revolve around us getting our sense of worth or purpose from our busy-ness and activity. We can also be concerned about others opinions of how busy we are and whether our role is really important.

I would want to encourage those leading and serving within our Elim churches to be intentional and proactive in releasing others. Creating opportunities for others to learn, make mistakes, take responsibility, live with their decisions and adapt accordingly is the best leadership development we can offer. Sometimes our failure to develop great teams is more about our failure to give real opportunities to others around us.

Do it yourself church leadership will result in a limited vision for our church. An approach like this will mean that we will soon reach capacity, restricting our time, vision imagination or ability to take on anything new. As we seek to mature as leaders at the start of a new century of Elim mission and ministry lets launch out by letting go and let’s see what God can do as we release others alongside us.

Question: What tips do you have for being intentional and proactive in releasing others into leadership and ministry? Leave a comment below.

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