Delegate Can’t Mean Abdicate

When I was getting Hill City Church started, I was determined to cultivate ownership among our people. I was prepared to err on the side of releasing and deploying people for their role in our collective ministry.

But I soon realized that what I was often doing was more abdication than delegation.


Building camaraderie and encouraging others to boldly take risks for the sake of the kingdom is one thing. Sending people to do something that is really your responsibility without equipping them is another thing entirely. One is empowering while the other amounts to setting people up for failure.

4 Stages of Apprenticeship

I don’t remember where I first came across it. But the following apprenticeship process is essential for ensuring that you are empowering someone rather than abdicating your duties in the name of “delegation”.

  1. I’ll do. You’ll watch. We’ll talk.
  2. I’ll do. You’ll help. We’ll talk.
  3. You’ll do. I’ll help. We’ll talk.
  4. You’ll do. I’ll watch. We’ll talk.

After that, the process continues with a new apprentice learning the role from the new leader.

Jesus Never Abdicated

Jesus spent 3 years doing this with his disciples. He definitely stretched them, pushed them into uncomfortable situations, and challenged them to take risks. But he is the King of kings, and he knows how to lead administer his kingdom through his deputies.

In saying farewell to his apprentices, he told them they would do the works he had begun. Except that they’d do greater works still. That’s astonishing.

And it actually happened. The result is that you and I are following Jesus today.

And it didn’t happen through the sloppy abdication of Jesus’ ministry duties to unempowered disciples.

Apprentice, deputize, delegate, release, deploy. But never abdicate.

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