The Discipline of Elimination

One of the things that holds most leaders back is saying “yes” to too many things. Because if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. There are more things that you CAN do than you SHOULD do, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be in a constant state of chasing what’s urgent over what’s important.

And be honest … you’re only good at a couple of things. Ask “what is it that only I can do” and make sure those things get priority in your calendar. For me it’s leading our preaching and teaching ministry, establishing our vision for the future, and developing our key leaders through training.

If you say yes to everything, you will become frustrated and burned out and ultimately, you will jeopardize the mission you’ve been called to superintend. Jesus chose to eliminate opportunities so that he could focus on the most things. We read in Luke 4:42b:

And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

He had to focus. He had to say no. He had to leave even though they wanted him to stay. It’s staggering to think about all the people Jesus said no to. He understood that whenever you say yes to anything, there is less of you for something else.

When I look at the trajectory of the church I lead, during the times we experienced our greatest growth, it was accompanied by eliminating competing programming. We got rid of Sunday night services, Wednesday night meals, all of our elected committees, choirs, men’s and women’s groups, singles groups, college groups, Vacation Bible School, Christmas plays, Sunday School classes. We decided to do fewer things better. Weekend services, our CORE, life groups, kids’ ministry, youth ministry, and leadership development. Just a warning ­– clarity is divisive. Especially to those people with agendas, but your organization won’t move off the dime without it.

Craig Groeschel recommends that for every to-do list you create, also create a to-don’t list. Figure out what you’re currently doing that you either shouldn’t be doing at all, or that you should empower someone else to do.

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