How To Purposefully Lose Control

 I use to get frustrated when leaders would leave because they felt that there wasn’t enough for them to do.  This hit a sore spot with me because I always felt that there was more than enough.  I would be confused as to why people would feel that way.  Finally a minister called me out on it, she said, “Chris, you say you want to give us responsibility, but then you never give up control.”  And she was right because I needed to have my fat fingers in everything.  For me giving up control to parts of my ministry was like handing over my first born, it was scary and painful.  But it’s something we need to do because we can’t make it all about us.  Now we all know in the end God is in control; however, when it comes to the decisions made in your student ministry most of the time they are made by the youth pastor.  When we refuse to allow our ministry leaders make decisions we:

  • Limit potential
  • Build a ministry that rises and falls on us
  • Send the message that no one can do it better

But again giving over control is scary.  When we allow our ministers to make decisions, to run with an event, to plan a program, to give a testimony, to run the tech we risk FAILURE.  But it’s worth the risk because with failure comes GROWTH.  We learn from our mistakes and we can help our ministers learn from their minstakes.  Think about all the times you made a mistake, what happened?  You learned.  So how do you pass on control, first thing you need to do is:

  • Allow Failure – Margin in the failure, don’t expect it, but acknowledge the fact that when you pass things on it’s not going to be done up to your standards, but that’s okay, different people bring different standards, they even bring better ones.  Next thing to do is:
  • Share Your Heart – It’s important for us to acknowledge to our team that we are nervous about relinquishing control.  And it’s not because we don’t trust them, it’s because we don’t want anyone to be disappointed.  I remember not wanting to hand over control to a few leaders because I didn’t want them to quit if things didn’t go their way.  When I shared that with them, they laughed at me, but then assured me that they would let me know if things got overwhelming.  This created trust in our relationship.  Lastly:
  • Build On The Trust:  Start small with the responsibilities, if they fall, pick them up.  If they mess up, let them try it again, if they succeed give them a little more.  Give them freedom, give them that authority, allow them to step into your shoes.  I’ve had times where I’ve even left the room so that my ministers can function as if I wasn’t even there…and guess what they loved it.

Your ministry won’t grow unless people grow.  People won’t grow unless the leader gives them the ability to grow.  If you don’t want your ministry to rise and fall on you, if you don’t want to lose ministers to inactivity, if you don’t want to feel like you have to do everything you need to hand over control.  I’ll admit it’s not simple, but you can do it.
If you are a veteran youth worker obviously you’ve dealt with this before, that’s why I would encourage you to share your thoughts and comments on how it is you pass off control to your team?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Love it. We just moved our small groups off campus, because we ran out of space at the church. I think it’s a “win” to do this, but I found it was really hard to give up control, since the groups are now happening in homes. Here’s a framework that helped me give up control:

    1) Be determined to give up control. If I don’t plan for it, I’ll never do it.

    2) Provide the necessary accountability and support needed for leaders without hovering. Each of our small group leaders has a coach that supports them, checks in, etc., and there have to be no fewer than two background checked leaders at each group. And yes, I do check in to see how things are going, but I let the leaders lead their groups.

    3) Set concrete and realistic expectations for leaders. They’ll do great if they know what I want them to do. And they won’t get burned out by trying to do too much.

  • Benjer,
    I give you a lot of credit for doing small groups off campus, I know for me the biggest leap of trust and control that I had to deal with was getting ready for my son to be born. I told them that I would work behind the scenes and in the shadows up until two weeks before the due date and not interfere. My son came late so there were several weeks where I observed and oh not to meddle was tough. But since then the fruit has been awesome. I think the second point you make is excellent, we sometimes confuse authority with accountability. A great leader serves and holds their team accountable.