How Do You Know What to Say Yes To and What to Say No To?

Life in ministry can feel like a barrage of requests and needs. Everyone wants a piece of you. And as you look around, you see so much that needs to be done. You’ve got to get to the hospital to visit someone. There’s a board meeting on Tuesday. And people are saying, “We should be doing (fill-in-the-blank).” Or, “We used to do (fill-in-the-blank), and we should start that up again.” Or, “you should visit (fill-in-the-blank).” Not to mention the denominational commitments and requests.

How do you discern when to say yes? For most people in ministry, saying no is tough. It feels bad. You feel like you are letting people down. Or you are afraid people will be upset if you don’t do what they want. But you don’t have to say yes just because someone wants you to.

And if you always say yes to what others want, you won’t ever get to what’s most important to you. You won’t spend much time doing what you most want to do.

Of course, we all have tasks to do in our work that are a bit outside our desires and our native talent. However, if most of your work is solely an obligation, it will be hard to keep going. Edward Hallowell and John J. Ratey in ADHD 2.0 (Ballantine, 2021, p. 69) say this: “You ought to spend the majority of your working hours at the intersection of three circles: the things you really like to do, the things you’re really good at doing, and the circle of things that someone will pay you to do.” How does the balance of your own work add up?

As I ask ministry coaching clients: “What do you love to do most in your ministry?” and “Can you do more of it?”

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