It’s hard to say ‘no’- but it’s a leadership essential


Our church leadership is going through the process of developing a plan for the next five years, and setting some (we hope) Christ-honouring and ambitious goals for that period.  We are forming task groups, and working together to produce something for this autumn.

I was trying to explain it to someone this morning, and I said that it would help us to decide which ideas to run with, and which ones to turn down.

‘Oh,’ he said, the lights going on, ‘I hadn’t realised it was a discipline document.’

Bingo.  Of course it is.

Jim Collins is one of those writers whose books I know I will buy, in advance of their being written. He has an astonishing ability to clarify the necessary ideas in a memorable way.  If church leaders are open to reading one non-Christian on the subject of leadership, Collins should be the man.

In his shortest book, ‘How the Mighty Fall: and why some companies never give in,’ he sketches out a doom-loop which numerous once-good organisations and businesses have followed to their eventual death.  He identifies escape routes on the way, but the basic message is, follow this path and your organisation will die.

Step one is ‘Hubris born of success’, when a company thinks it is so successful, it will succeed at whatever it does, no matter whether it fits their ethos.  They take their eyes off working out the elements of what works and what doesn’t, and why, and start to assume they will inevitably succeed, with ease

But step two is ‘The ill-disciplined pursuit of more’ – and that’s what struck my friend this morning.  He had assumed that a vision document for a church will always identify new opportunities, more people to reach, more, more, more.

Not so.   A good vision pathway makes sure you have correctly identified the biblical heart of what you’re doing, and that you stick to it.  You adopt a slow, steady, disciplined approach to evangelism, teaching, discipling.

You know when you’re going to say ‘no’.

Hands up, I’m a repeat offender here – I always try to cram one more thing into an overloaded church programme.  So I’m hoping the discipline will help me, too, and enable the team to tell me to say ‘no’ as well.

When did you last turn something down? (Honestly? I turned down a speaking engagement a couple of weeks ago, and it was hard, but right.)

2 comments on “It’s hard to say ‘no’- but it’s a leadership essential”

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