Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed with small projects and tasks? Too many irons in the fire, so to speak? This happens to me all the time. I get an idea (‘I should start a blog’, ‘We should change our worship service’, ‘I need to organize something around the house’). And it’s possible that everything you’ve thought is a good idea. Two problems though:
- It’s possible to have too many good ideas.
- They might be good ideas, for someone else. Just not you.
One of the trickiest things that any of us struggle with is saying ‘No’, especially to good ideas. This can be particularly true for leaders, who want the best ideas they can get. The danger in having too many ideas is that you can’t accomplish ANY of them, no matter how good they are. And some ideas are great, for other people. Just not you.
Goals (or dreams, ambitions, etc.) provide a clear vision and plan for discerning and sorting out your best ideas. Here’s why:
Saying ‘no’ reinforces clarity – In church leadership, particularly in revitalizing a congregation, there are often dozens of small ideas that the leader has to help the church refocus and reinvigorate. The problem is that you can have too many ideas at once, and lose track of your overall purpose in the middle of so many great ideas. Sure, it may be a great idea to update your worship service, but is that really the best idea right now?
It’s tempting to chase good ideas down bad rabbit holes because you don’t know which trail you’re supposed to be on. Find your path, and you can ignore the other ideas.
Saying ‘no’ helps you set priorities – There’s a limited amount of time and energy we as people get to spend in our life. Even if every idea you have is a good one, you won’t be able to achieve all of them; especially at the same time.
I have wanted to write a book for some time now, and I have now stated that as a goal to several people (and the internet). I also want to run another marathon in my lifetime. Both of these are good ideas (to me at least). Both take incredible discipline and time.
If I’m going to do either one of those goals well, it means I have to say ‘no’ to one right now, in order to say ‘yes’ later.
Saying ‘no’ helps you specialize – Some pastors are gifted musicians in addition to being great care givers. Others are great administrators in addition to good teachers. Me? I’m good at preaching and visioning.
I could spend my time trying to become a jack of all trades, and improve my major weakness (administration – Sorry Barry and Amy), or I can focus my energy and effort on what I do best, and let others gifted in that area be gifted in that area. Specializing allows me to say ‘no’ to tasks that exhaust me, and that take away from accomplishing bigger goals.
Saying ‘no’ can be difficult. It can also be life giving. Saying ‘no’ isn’t permanent, but it does help you do your best.
So set your goals, and don’t let good ideas distract you from the great ideas you’re trying to accomplish.