Lesson 22: Stewardship and Delegation

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part B, (2000), 195–200


The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand and use the principles of stewardship and delegation.

Introduction

Moses was a great leader, but after he led the people of Israel out of Egypt he found it difficult to solve all the people’s problems by himself. Every day, from morning until evening, he sat before the people to answer their questions and to resolve their difficulties. But the task was too much for one man. After receiving counsel from Jethro, his father-in-law and a righteous priesthood leader, Moses divided the people into groups of 10, 50, 100, and 1,000. He then appointed a worthy man to lead each group. Thereafter, as the prophet of Israel, Moses spent his time teaching the people the commandments and solving the most difficult problems. The other problems were handled by the leaders he had called. (See Exodus 18:13–26.)

Moses became a more effective leader by organizing the people he served. His use of the principles of stewardship and delegation helped him establish order among the people of Israel and govern them more effectively.

Stewards and Stewardship

A steward is a person who has been given responsibility for someone else or for something belonging to someone else. President Spencer W. Kimball defined a stewardship in the Church: “[It] is a sacred spiritual or temporal trust for which there is accountability” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 124; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 78).

Stewardship in the Church involves three basic principles (see D&C 104:11–17):

  • Display a poster of the following list, or refer to the information on the chalkboard:

    Basic Principles of Stewardship in the Lord’s Kingdom

    1. 1.

      A steward is entrusted with something that belongs to the Lord.

    2. 2.

      A steward exercises agency in caring for his stewardship.

    3. 3.

      A steward is accountable for his stewardship.

A Steward Is Entrusted with Something That Belongs to the Lord

The Lord said, “I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine” (D&C 104:14). The entire earth is the Lord’s, and everything on it belongs to Him. Everything we have has been given to us by the Lord. He has entrusted our bodies, our talents and abilities, and our families to our care. We are stewards over these things. When leaders call someone to a Church position or give a priesthood assignment, they are assigning a stewardship.

  • Have the class members ponder for a moment the stewardships they have received from the Lord.

A Steward Exercises Agency in Caring for His Stewardship

As children of Heavenly Father, we have the agency to act for ourselves. Therefore, when we receive a stewardship, we are free to care for it in the way we decide. We are free to be faithful, diligent, and obedient; but we are also free to be lazy and disobedient. The Lord said, “I … have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves” (D&C 104:17).

A Steward Is Accountable for His Stewardship

The Lord expects us to be faithful in our stewardships, but He will not force us to do so. However, at the time of the Judgment we must make an accounting to Him of how we cared for our stewardships. We must also make an accounting to the Lord’s representatives—our priesthood leaders—in priesthood interviews. “It is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity” (D&C 72:3).

Delegation

To delegate means to give another person responsibility and authority to accomplish a certain task for which you are responsible. The assigned task then becomes a stewardship for the person given the task. Moses was an effective leader because he used the principles of stewardship and delegation. Church leaders can also be more effective by using these principles.

Building the kingdom of God on earth is a glorious work, but no one can do it alone. When we are called to lead, we should involve others. A leader who works hard will bless many lives, but a leader who delegates effectively and inspires others to work hard will bless the lives of many more.

Effective delegation in the Church involves four basic principles:

  • Display a poster of the following list, or refer to the information on the chalkboard:

    Basic Principles of Delegation in the Lord’s Kingdom

    1. 1.

      Select the right person.

    2. 2.

      Assign the stewardship.

    3. 3.

      Allow the individual to govern himself or herself.

    4. 4.

      Hold the individual accountable for his or her stewardship.

Select the Right Person

When we have a task that needs to be accomplished, we should prayerfully select the person to be assigned (see lesson 21, “Leadership: Inspired Decision Making,” in this manual).

Assign the Stewardship

After selecting the right person, we should assign the stewardship. The proper way to extend a calling in the Church is to have an interview with the person. It is always appropriate to invite the person’s spouse to the interview. Assignments such as welfare projects or administration of the sacrament may be made without conducting an interview.

  • What information should a leader give to a person who has just received a new calling or assignment? (The purpose of the organization or project, the duties of the assignment, the specific results the individual will be expected to achieve, and a time for the person to report back on his or her stewardship)

Allow the Individual to Govern Himself or Herself

Each person should be allowed to exercise personal agency in caring for his or her stewardship. A wise leader will offer his help to the assigned person but will never make the decisions for him or her. The leader will also offer support and encouragement.

When asked how he governed the members of the Church, Joseph Smith said, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves” (quoted by John Taylor, in Millennial Star, 15 Nov. 1851, 339).

President N. Eldon Tanner wrote: “A leader should never try to do the work of one to whom he has made an assignment. … Give them freedom to do their tasks. Never criticize them, but praise success and encourage efforts. … We as leaders … should give the utmost attention to the personal growth of each individual through teaching correct principles and try to lead that individual to prepare himself for immortality and eternal life. This we should do by example and precept and then be prepared to help and support him in his efforts, but we should let him make his own decisions and govern himself according to the free agency that is his gift” (“Leading As the Savior Led,” New Era, June 1977, 6).

Hold the Individual Accountable for His or Her Stewardship

Occasionally the leader should interview the assigned person and receive a report about the stewardship. During this interview the leader should help the person evaluate his or her performance and offer help and encouragement. He should also express appreciation for the individual’s efforts. Sincere praise for people’s actions builds faith and testimony.

President Tanner wrote: “An accounting should always be made to the leader, and he should expect such accounting. In Church administration the basic tool for accountability is [the] personal interview. … This can be a very rewarding experience for both parties, where there is an opportunity to give a self-evaluation, and where communication should be open and constructive. It is an ideal setting for offering and receiving help and assistance” (New Era, June 1977, 6).

  • Have the class members consider the following case study:

President Olson needed to call a teacher for the Aaronic Priesthood members in his branch. After much prayer and deliberation he felt inspired to call Brother Johnson, a new convert to the Church. When he met Brother Johnson at priesthood meeting, he made an appointment for Brother and Sister Johnson to meet him in the chapel at 6:30 that evening.

When the Johnsons arrived, President Olson invited Brother Johnson into his office for a brief worthiness interview; then he invited Sister Johnson to join them. After visiting for a few minutes, President Olson offered a prayer. After the prayer he said: “I have invited you here this evening to extend a calling to Brother Johnson. I have prayed about this matter and feel inspired to call you, Brother Johnson, to teach the Aaronic Priesthood class in our branch. I have great confidence that you will be an effective teacher, since I know that the Lord wants you to serve in this position.” President Olson then went on to describe in detail the duties of a teacher of the priesthood class.

After making certain that Brother Johnson knew exactly what would be expected of him, President Olson asked if he would accept the call. Brother Johnson said: “I feel very humble in being asked to accept this responsibility, but I have faith that the Lord will help me to do it properly. I will accept this calling and do my best.” President Olson then wrote down the duties for Brother Johnson to take with him and told him how important the brethren in his class were to Heavenly Father.

President Olson then asked Sister Johnson if she would support her husband in this calling. She said that she was very proud of her husband and would support him with all her heart. President Olson expressed his appreciation to the Johnsons and arranged for Brother Johnson to be set apart for his calling the following Sunday. President Olson then set up an appointment to meet with Brother Johnson again in two weeks to receive a report about the calling.

Two weeks later, when Brother Johnson came for the interview, he gave a very good progress report. He said he had learned much about teaching and was trying to be a good teacher. But he said that he still had much to learn. President Olson was pleased. He praised him and said he was doing a fine job. He encouraged him to continue to do his best and to keep learning, and they talked about teaching by the power of the Holy Ghost. They discussed ways that Brother Johnson might help a less-active member of the class. As they set up another reporting interview, President Olson and Brother Johnson each expressed thanks to the other. They both had confidence that Brother Johnson would be a successful teacher.

  • How did President Olson follow the principles of delegation? What did he do to help Brother Johnson succeed in his calling?

Conclusion

Stewardship and delegation help us accomplish the Lord’s work more effectively. When we receive a calling in the Church, we are entrusted with specific responsibilities in the kingdom of God. These responsibilities are a stewardship, for which the Lord holds us accountable. We are free to care for our stewardships diligently or slothfully, but we will eventually be asked to make an accounting of them.

Effective delegation involves the principles of stewardship. It requires that we assign a stewardship, teach correct principles, allow the person to govern himself or herself, and hold him or her accountable.

As we are faithful in our stewardships and delegate effectively, the Lord’s work will go forth. This is how Alma helped the Church prosper in his time.

Challenge

Identify the stewardships the Lord has given to you. Select one stewardship you can improve in, and set a goal that will help you do so. The next time you need to make an assignment in your family or your Church calling, follow the principles of stewardship. Delegate authority and follow through on the assignment.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Prepare the posters suggested in the lesson, or write the information on the chalkboard.

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.