What Happens When We Stop Saying Yes

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Are you like most ministry leaders—struggling with a tendency to say “yes” to everything? Yes to helping someone on our “off” hours (whatever that means), yes to helping out in another volunteer role, yes to an additional responsibilities, yes to another project? Our plate is often so full that the extra yes’s push us over the edge. Our margins, whatever they were, are gone… 

When this happens we’re no longer leading effectively. We jump from task to task, and never fully focus on any one thing. We live in a world where everything is supposed to be our top priority. But this just isn’t possible. The parishioner who stops you in the hallway and asks if you have a minute actually needs more like two hours for the crisis she’s about to share. The staff meeting that has a five-minute agenda item that turns into a required follow-up meeting. 

Often, we don’t feel we have any other option but to say “yes.” And sometimes that’s true. That’s why we need to learn the importance of our strategic “no.” 

Effective, healthy leaders have practiced their conservation of time and energy. Others experience them as firm, but open and caring. They know they need time to refocus, dig in, and think deeply. And if they don’t ensure that space, they’re reactive, shallow, and un-centered as they relate to others. 

FAMILYING the Faith is a multi-media training resource for churches that seek to accompany parents as the primary influencers of their children’s faith. It’s intended for pastors, ministry leaders, youth directors, children’s ministers, and leadership boards. You get the FAMILYING the Faith e-book, along with video training from Dr. Christian Smith and Laura Kelly Fanucci.

Encourage in yourself a future-focused, strategic mindset. Leadership research reveals that we need just a few strategic drivers and a few simple metrics to measure our success. With this clarity, we learn to say “yes” to only a whittled list of the most important tasks. And that results in more focused and deliberate work. 


• What can you say “no” to today so you can focus on the most important “yes” tasks?
• By limiting your to-do list, how can you improve your overall effectiveness?
• If you had to name three to five (at most) strategic drivers, what would they be? 

Jason Bland is a certified leadership coach, trained in Vibrant Faith’s Ministry Leadership Coaching School. His coaching and consulting approach is focused on helping leaders find the solution that fits their unique personal & professional strategic goals.


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