Letting Go Must Have Been Hard for Jesus

Letting Go Must Have Been Hard for Jesus

Seven Steps to Help You do it Too

At this point in Lent, as we find ourselves on the threshold of Easter coming quickly, it’s a good time to consider the challenge of letting go. It could be any number of things:

  • Giving your children a little more independence and/or responsibility;
  • Delegating some things to others at work who could be ready … or maybe not;
  • Moving from your own home into a condo or assisted living arrangements because chores are getting to be too much.

Whatever the circumstances, letting go is nearly always a challenge.

So imagine what Jesus was feeling as His time to leave His disciples and turn over His ministry to them was drawing near. 

The apostles certainly didn’t do much to make the transition any easier.

  • When He tried to instruct them, they often didn’t understand.
  • When He asked them to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, they fell asleep.
  • When the soldiers came for Him, they ran away.
  • When Peter, the one He designated to lead His team after He was gone, was accused of being on Jesus’ team, he denied ever even knowing Him.

It’s not hard to imagine Him on the cross pleading with His Father: “Look, they’re not ready. Not even close. Give me one more year to get everything aligned. I can handle the suffering, but things are such a mess, if I leave now everything may be lost.”

Fortunately, He got another chance.

We’re told that after His resurrection, He got back to work trying to prepare His apostles to lead before He had to take His leave of them. He also promised them that He would send them His Holy Spirit and that He would also be with them.

When the Spirit arrived and was made manifest at Pentecost, that finished the transition. Beginning that day, the apostles were ready to evangelize much of the then-known world – and to give their lives for the effort.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Jesus’ firm resolve to turn over His ministry to a group that seemed unprepared for the task should give us courage when we face those points in our lives where we realize we really ought to make a huge change – we ought to let go of whatever it is that we are clutching fast to and move on in the best interests of all.

But if you need a little more direction and structure to get the job done, Terry Watkins, a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team, offers us seven tips for getting the ball rolling – and making progress as we go.

  1. Create a detailed plan for transferring the task.
  2. Be clear of the objectives and outcomes of the task.
  3. Create a timeline.
  4. Establish how and when you will monitor progress.
  5. Do not make assumptions.
  6. Create a safe space for learning and failures.
  7. Provide timely feedback.

Through it all, be aware and resist the temptation to control.

As Terry explains: “The leader’s need to remain in control of a task or project will eventually cause both leader and direct report to fall short of expectations. Delegating more will allow for growth opportunities and professional development for both you and your people. Use these suggestions, take a deep breath, and give it a try today!”

Just three more tips: pray, pray and pray some more.

And keep reminding yourself: You wouldn’t be a Christian today if Jesus hadn’t shown faith in a mostly motley crew two millennia ago.

Thank you, Jesus! For the delegation … and for the example.

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Owen Phelps

Dr. Owen Phelps is Director of the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute and author of the book, The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus: Introducing S3 Leadership — Servant, Steward, and Shepherd. He has presented Lead Like Jesus Encounters in Canada, Uganda and India, as well as all across the U.S.


He formerly served on the faculty of the College of Business & Management at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, and was a consultant on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Communications Committee for about a decade. He has served as a consultant to church organizations from Vermont to Texas. 


Dr. Phelps was an award-winning writer, columnist, editor and publisher with a multi-state publishing company before he began work in ministry. He has written several articles and contributed chapters to two books devoted to issues of faith-based organizational performance.


He and his wife Jane, a CPA, have been married for 49 years. They live in Durand, Illinois, and Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, and they have five grown children and 17 growing grandchildren.

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