Making good changes always involves saying “no”. For me that is never easy.
- Saying no to evening snacks is almost impossible.
- Saying no to worthy projects and ministry opportunities is hard.
- Saying no to people I care about tears me up.
Learning to say no is indispensable to leading with excellence. For me this has always been hard because I am a recovering “people pleaser.” I have made some progress in recent years but I have a long, long way to go.
I’ve noticed that many churches have the same issue. They too can be “people pleasers.” One reason for this is that too many of the church’s leaders are people pleasers in their personal lives and that impacts how they lead the church. How unfortunate that these most dedicated, well-meaning members who have no desire to hurt anyone’s feelings, end up causing problems they never saw coming. In their inability to say no, they end up doing much of the work themselves and then become over-worked and sometimes resentful.
Also, when leaders are unable to say no, the church’s overall ministry impact suffers. We have all witnessed this. Programs that once flourished and contributed to a vibrant ministry, begin to die a slow death and are kept going because leaders are afraid of saying: “No – let them go. Those once-meaningful programs no longer contribute to the impact of our church as they once did. In fact they are now keeping us down because we no longer have the people or resources they demand.” When church leaders do not have the courage to face the truth about the ineffectiveness of cherished ministries, the morale of the church is in trouble.
Here are a few examples of not saying no in your church:
- No stand-out, quality ministries but a number of anemic programs that are on life support.
- More positions to be filled by the nominating committee than there are people who will fill them.
- Burned out leadership core.
If this is happening in your church, let’s talk. That’s what we are here for – to start and strengthen churches.