“Do only what you can do then delegate everything else.”
We often hear or read that the best leaders are the best delegators, but what if there is no one on your team to delegate to? What if you are literally the only person on staff? What if you are the only person who is tasked with thinking about your area of ministry outside of Sunday mornings?
This is a reality for many leaders in ministries or smaller organizations. You might consider yourself a “one person show,” and the amount of work and energy needed to pull-off your ministry can be overwhelming.
Here are five tips for navigating times when you’re feeling that pressure as a leader without a team:
- Check your heart and attitude. When you feel like you’re carrying a ministry or a workload all by yourself, it can be easy to grow bitter and entitled. “I should have a team like everyone else!” “I’m doing the work of 3 other people!” When you begin to feel these feelings, check your heart and attitude. Say a prayer and ask God to remove any entitlement or bitterness. Ask Him to remind you why He called you to your current position and to show you the impact you are making for His Kingdom through your hard work. Finally, sincerely thank God that you are able to be in a role that impacts the lives of others.
- Seek out help and encouragement. As Christians, we know that it is not good to be alone. Even if you are the only one “on payroll” or on staff, it is vital that you seek out some help when you feel like the load is too much. Considering finding some volunteers who might have some free time during the week who can help you out for an hour or so. Don’t be afraid to ask a peer if they can spare 30 minutes to help you with a project occasionally. Find help wherever you can and always say “yes” when someone offers to help!
- Grow yourself. Always be challenging yourself to grow as a leader. Maybe you need to grow with organization and productivity—find resources to help you! Maybe you need to grow your creative talents—find resources to help you! Make time to read books or listen to podcasts that grow you personally. Most importantly, be sure you are growing spiritually by spending time in the Word, praying, and engaging with the Christian community. As a leader, make it a priority to intentionally help yourself by devoting some time to your own personal growth.
- Work hard when you work. Rest hard when you rest. Burnout is real. Burnout can come quickly, take everything you have, and spit you out on the other end exhausted. You are not meant to work 24/7 (even if you have a thousand things on your checklist that could take that long to finish.) Find ways to balance your schedule and have a healthy work schedule. When you’re at work or church, give it all you have! But when you are “off the clock” or “on vacation,” unplug from your email or notifications. Take time to recharge and fill yourself up before jumping back into work.
- Communicate often and transparently with your leaders. If you’re struggling, overwhelmed, or feeling burned out because of the amount of work you do as a leader, have a conversation with your leadership as soon as possible. They may not realize the expectations that they have put on you or exactly what you deal with. It might be awkward at first, but having a great and transparent line of communication with your leadership could be the most rewarding thing as you lead. They could help you figure out solutions to issues, work through emotions you may be feeling, and could potentially make a plan to alleviate some of the demands on your plate. Be open, be honest, and (referring back to Tip 1), check your heart and approach every conversation with love and gentleness.
While being a leader without a team is definitely hard work, I hope that these tips can help you as you navigate this incredible calling you have. Know that you are not alone and there are countless others in ministry who understand and are also working tirelessly to make the gospel known to kids and families.
Micheal Walley serves as the Lifeway Kids Event Producer. He is a graduate of Mississippi College and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Micheal has been serving in Kids Ministry from the moment he was “promoted” out of kids ministry himself. He loves coffee, leadership, all things creative, and his wife, Anne Marie.