I recently finished reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Not only did the book challenge my thinking about my personal life and leadership, it certainly caused me to revisit how I’m helping churches get unstuck. It is probably my favorite book that I’ve read so far this year.
I have highlights and notes throughout this book, but there were several key thoughts that captured my attention. I used them to pull together this list that may help you determine whether or not your ministry is focused on what’s essential.
10 Questions to Determine if You’re Trying to Do Too Much
- Are we letting other people define our mission and vision? – “When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people—our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families—will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important.”
- Are we willing to stop doing ministries and events to invest resources on higher priorities? – “Studies have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth and thus that we find them more difficult to get rid of. If you’re not quite there, ask the killer question: ‘If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?'”
- Do our decisions and actions reflect focus or fairness? (We want focus.) – “Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important.”
- Does our calendar suggest we worship busyness over prioritizing what’s most important? – “If you believe being overly busy and overextended is evidence of productivity, then you probably believe that creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum. Yet these very activities are the antidote to the nonessential busyness that infects so many of us. Rather than trivial diversions, they are critical to distinguishing what is actually a trivial diversion from what is truly essential.”
- Do we have a unique purpose that energizes the team? – “The morale on the team had plummeted, and not simply because team members were overworked and overwhelmed from having taken on too much. It was also because no project ever seemed to justify itself, and there was no greater sense of purpose. Worse, it now became difficult to distinguish themselves in the marketplace because their work, which had previously occupied a unique and profitable niche, had become so general.”
- Are the vision, strategy and action initiatives clear to everyone? – “When there is a serious lack of clarity about what the team stands for and what their goals and roles are, people experience confusion, stress, and frustration. When there is a high level of clarity, on the other hand, people thrive.”
- Do we have the courage to set boundaries and say no? – “Without courage, the disciplined pursuit of less is just lip service.”
- Have we invited an unbiased outsider to help us eliminate the clutter? – “When we get so emotionally hung up on trying to force something that is not the right fit, we can often benefit from a sounding board. Someone who is not emotionally involved in the situation and unaffected by the choice we make can give us the permission to stop forcing something that is clearly not working out.”
- Do we make it harder for people to take their next steps because there are too many options? – “Since ultimately, having fewer options actually makes a decision ‘easier on the eye and the brain,’ we must summon the discipline to get rid of options or activities that may be good, or even really good, but that get in the way.”
- Do we know what’s important now? – “I realized that until I knew what was important right now, what was important right now was to figure out what was important right now!”
By the way, The Unstuck Group helps churches address these questions through our strategic planning process. We ask the tough questions that require you and your team to get focused on what’s most important right now. If you’re interested in learning more, let’s start the conversation today.