[featured_image]One of the struggles that many Christian leaders have is in the area of time management. It’s important to be disciplined with how you use the time in each day.

As my friend John Smith told me many years ago: “You only have enough time to do the will of God.”

John challenged me to be selective – to choose to use the time God has allotted me wisely. I don’t have time wasting time on those things that aren’t aligned with God’s will.

I’m often convicted by Jesus words in John 17, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” Jesus only had enough time to do the will of God!I often coach church planters and leaders who are over committed and overwhelmed. I help them to focus on those activities that matter most to God. I have to admit that I’m not a time management expert (just ask my wife). But I am continually striving to improve and prioritize my weekly activities. One of the ways that I do this is by setting an appointment with myself each week for ABC Time – which includes evaluation of last week and planning for the week ahead.

Learn to Say “NO!”

Learning to say “No” is critical for leaders. There are more opportunities and demands on your time than you can meet. This requires a clear sense of purpose and direction. When you know what you are saying “Yes” to, it enables you to more easily say “No” to everything that’s not “Yes.”

In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.”

In his book The Power of Less, Leo Babauta challenges leaders to “reduce the commitments in your life.” (p 99) [amazon affiliate link]

That seems simple, but in reality, I find it quite challenging. It requires me to say “NO!” to the less important and to say “YES!” to the most important things.

Babautu observes, “each time someone makes a request of you and you agree to that request, you’re making a commitment that will take up a part of your life.” The key is to cut back on those commitments by saying “NO!”

Why not make an inventory of your commitments? Then evaluate each one based on whether it’s aligned with God’s calling for your life. If there are things that you are committed to that are not aligned with God’s calling, you need to eliminate them. Remember, you only have enough time to do the will of God. Don’t get sidetracked with lesser things.

Next, make a short list of those things in your life that are most important to you.

Here is Leo’s list:
1. Spending time with my wife and kids
2. Writing
3. Running
4. Reading

Here’s my semi-short list:
1. Time alone with God
2. Family time
3. Writing
4. Disciplemaking
5. Coaching
6. Training
7. Traveling
8. Gardening
9. Running
10. Serving others

So – What’s most important to you?

Start eliminating those commitments that aren’t on your short list. Repeat this again and again.

Avoid new commitments that aren’t aligned with God’s calling on your life.

Protect your time. It’s precious. Don’t waste it. “It’s your most valuable commodity. Guard it with your life.”

6 Tips for Saying “No” to Requests by Leo Babauta

1. First, be aware. Learn to recognize requests for what they are — demands on your time. And be aware that your time is limited.

2. Consider your Short List. Is the request in line with the four to five priorities you wrote out in your Short List? If not, the commitment is nonessential.

3. Be honest. Tell the person that you’re trying to cut back on your commitments because you’ve been overloaded. Tell the person that you are trying to focus and can’t commit to another thing right now. Most likely, they’ll understand.

4. Be firm. Say, “I just can’t right now” and make it clear that you’re not open to negotiation or persuasion. If you don’t male that clear. they might pester you until you give in.

5. I wish I could. Often I will honestly tell the person, “I really wish I could. It sounds great. But I just don’t have the time right now.” It validates the person’s request but makes it clear that you are unable to fulfill the commitment.

6. Don’t be sorry. Even if the person is insistent that you’re needed for this project, don’t worry — they’ll find another person to fill the need. Nothing in this world has failed because one person said “no” to a request — if the need was great enough, another person filled it.

Today’s Missional Challenge

You only have enough time to do the will of God. Be selective. Practice saying “No!”

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