In a previous post about the Pitfalls of Running A Christian Business, one of the specific pitfalls I mentioned was that many people think a Christian business should never say no to anything! They evidently believe that having a Christian philosophy means we should agree to help anyone with any cause they have. I am not sure of the basis for this feeling, but I have seen it repeatedly exhibited since we began to attempt to integrate our faith into our business.
WHY Say No?
Before we look at WHEN you should say no, let’s answer another question – one that is central to this post. WHY should you say no to some opportunities? I mean, within reason, shouldn’t we always be prepared to help others? If we say no, are we not turning away those in need? If we say no, are we not missing some good opportunities to impact people?
The truth is we are. When we say no to some opportunities, we are turning some away that are in need and we are missing some good opportunities to impact people. The problem for most people is that they cannot see that it is critical to say no to some good opportunities in order to be available to take advantage of the best opportunities.
Good vs. Great?
Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, said that good is the enemy of great. He says we have too few great schools because we have too many good ones. We do not have enough great businesses because we have too many good ones. The same goes for churches, organizations, etc. The problem is that too many people and organizations settle for being good rather than striving for being great!
Rather than saying “Yes!” to every good opportunity that comes along, we should instead save our efforts for the best ones. Rather than spreading ourselves too thin by taking on every good project, we should focus on those that are the best. In this way we are maximizing our effectiveness. We are also leaving those “good” opportunities to someone else that may have a “best” fit with them.
So, let’s say you get this philosophy and you agree with it. Now you want to know what to do next. How do you take this philosophy and execute in the Christian business? How do you apply this to your life as a Christian leader?
Let’s look at a few key steps in this process.
1. Determine your gifts
- What are you gifted to do? What comes easily to you? See my recent post on Pursuing the Gifts You Have.
2. Determine your mission
- In what area(s) are you going to focus? What is your purpose?
3. Determine your resources
- How much time, money, effort, etc. do you have to give to your various roles?
4. Build in some cushion
- Do not forget to build in some cushion or margin when determining available resources. You should maintain this margin for those times you underestimate a need or when you simply cannot say no!
5. Be proactive
- Don’t sit and wait on the best opportunities to come to you. Go find them! Create them! Begin investing your resources for an eternal return!
You can use this same list as your litmus test for opportunities that come your way. Does this opportunity fit your gifts? Is it within your mission’s area of focus? Do you have the resources to take it on? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you should think hard about saying no to the opportunity.
If you are still unsure, ask yourself this question. If the opportunity fits at least two of these criteria, is it important enough to you that you would be willing to spend some of your cushion in the third category in order to take it on? Sometimes there are simply reasons we know we should not say no. If we have the margin to spend, it can sometimes make sense to say yes.
What first came to mind when you thought about something you should have declined?
Have you had a successful experience saying no?
What are the obstacles to you saying no?