Should I Or Shouldn't I?
Baseball great Yogi Berra once quipped, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." If it were only that easy. Leaders have more opportunities than time. How do we choose wisely?
Decisions Have Consequences
"Should I or shouldn't I?" It is the leader's constant dilemma.
Requests for your time and services will always outpace the hours available. Decisions must be made. Every "Yes" is going to cost you. You will pay for it in time as well as in physical, emotional, and spiritual fatigue. Every "No" is going to leave a few people disappointed.
Some leaders have no problem drawing boundaries and making decisions. For others it is more difficult. I am one of those for whom it is more difficult. As a result, I have been working on a decision-making grid to help me process requests for my time.
A Decision-Making Grid
How do I choose between good and great? Assuming a request is in keeping with God's word and provides an opportunity to honor him with my time, talents, or treasures, I am learning to ask these four questions:
1. Is this good STEWARDSHIP of my role?
God calls me to be a good manager of my life and leadership:
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV
Being a good steward of my life comes, in part, from having clarity with respect to my role. As a pastor I am a leader, an example, an equipper, and a pastor/teacher. This is who I am, what I do, and where my time must go. It is not good stewardship of my life and ministry to say "Yes" to requests that fall outside of primary role.
Before I say "Yes", the request has to pass the stewardship test.
2. Is this in keeping with my STRENGTHS?
God calls us to make honest assessments of ourselves:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3 ESV
Each of us needs to know our God-given strengths and work within them. What do you do well? I can teach, lead, write, and encourage. Those are my strong suits. I need to stay focused on my strengths and turn down requests that take me outside of them.
Before I say "Yes", the request has to pass the strengths test.
3. Do I have the SPACE in my calendar to do this?
Life is short. Hours are limited. Like Moses, I pray:
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Numbering my days with wisdom means monitoring my calendar with diligence. One thing I know about myself is this, "My eyes are bigger than my stomach." I always think I can do more than I can. I have a tendency to overestimate my reach and underestimate my time.
I must constantly and carefully look at my calendar. What tradeoff am I willing to make? Every time I say "Yes" I am going to trade away time and energy that could be going to another project or that I could be using to refill my own tank. Do I have adequate space on my calendar to do this?
Before I say "Yes", the request has to pass the space test.
4. Am I getting a green light from the SPIRIT in community?
The leadership of the early church had many decisions to make. Acts 15 records their response to a particularly challenging issue. It also gives me an important insight for making decisions:
For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements. Acts 15:28
These leaders had a decision to make. They made that decision in keeping with Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in the safety of a community of believers. Each of those elements is critically important. But since making an assessment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in community with others takes time, it can be too easily ignored.
Leaders need to learn to lay out their requests before God and then listen to see if that "still small voice" of the Holy Spirit sounds any warnings. Having a trusted circle of advisers who help you process a request can also play a big role in helping you make a wise decision.
Before I say "Yes", the request must pass the "Spirit in community" test.
Leaders do a lot, but cannot do it all. Choosing wisely brings effectiveness to the task and joy in the journey. May God give you keen insight as you decide.