In order to stay sane and effective, there is one word we all must come to love, and it’s NO. I love this word. No – builds boundaries. No – directs a vision and calling. No – replaces confusion with clarity and direction. No also helps walk-out the different seasons of life. I’ll never forget what Casey Treat, pastor Christian Faith Center, Seattle, WA, says, “When you know what you’re called to do, you also know what you’re not called to do.”
How many times in a year do people bring ideas and opportunities to implement into your schedule or ministry organization? I love new ideas and new opportunities, but let’s face it, you can’t do everything. I respect leaders and church organizations that say NO to a lot of ministry opportunities that come by. Why? Because they understand three things:
- They know their vision
- They know their culture
- They understand the life cycle of seasons – personally and organizationally
Now, I’m not advocating that we should say no to every opportunity or new idea that comes across our paths. All ministry leaders have a responsibility to keep their finger on the pulse of what God’s doing beyond their church walls. Staying on top of the happenings could lead to awesome ideas and opportunities. However, I’m aware of several churches that helped fund great ideas and opportunities, but never implemented it within their own church. Why? Because they saw the need and impact it would have on the Kingdom, but it wasn’t a fit within the vision of their church organization.
I’ve noticed that healthy leaders and healthy organizations say no far more than they say yes. I know quite a few churches and ministry organizations that say YES to almost everything because they have a religious addiction to keep people happy. When this happens, corporate and personal vision gets foggy and unclear because of a million ideas and opportunities trying to be implemented at the same time. It’s at these moments leaders start finding themselves trying to do what everyone else is doing, instead of following what God has called them to do personally and corporately.
Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, Atlanta, GA illustrates this principle in his book, Habitudes: Volume 3. He uses the image called, Rivers & Floods. Leaders and organizations will either function as a river or as a flood. A river flows in one direction, bringing life to everything around it. However, a flood goes in many different directions causing damage and disaster to everything in it’s path.
As leaders, we should build our lives and our organizations that functions like a river, not a flood. But, to do that, we must value the word NO. To be a leader who builds and functions like a river, learn to say NO!