Overflow: Moving to Less for More

Most people have a to do list.  But do you have a not to do list? 

If you are going to do less to accomplish more, you need to stop doing things probably more than you need to start doing things. Why?  If the gravitational pull in life is toward complexity, more, saying yes to whatever and being reactive, then it’s going to take intentionality to reverse that.

Here’s why: not all activities are created equal.  Some bring far greater reward for the same amount of effort than others.  Why not focus on those that bring the most reward and eliminate those that don’t?

That’s hard step, but here are some shifts to doing less in order to accomplish more that have helped me in the last few years:

In ministry

  1. We cut all mid-week programming except small groups, believing that small groups provided the best opportunity for life-change.  As a result, participation in mid-week ministry went from 35% of weekend attenders participating in mid week ministry to 68% of weekend attenders participating in small groups.  We also do a better job in small group ministry.
  2. We cut our most successful non-family children’s venue (Vacation Bible Camp) to do a better job focusing on Sunday mornings and equipping parents to develop their kids spiritually and morally at home.
  3. I have focused more of my time on working with the leaders on staff and key leaders in the church. I say no to most outside meetings that are not in some way related to our mission or vision.  Ironically, that has given me more time to hang out with more Connexus people.

In my life, I:

  1. Began to turn down almost all speaking engagements except those related to family ministry or leadership development.  Even I hate saying no, but it’s been effective and made me a better leader. Rather than randomly saying yes, I carefully and prayerfully discuss opportunities with my family, our elders and key staff.
  2. Decided not to develop a new personal hobby for the next five years and instead focus on opening time to simply be around for my kids.  I’ve found that one of the best way to parent teens is to be around when they are around.  Schedule less…be available more.

There are other shifts I’ve made and we’ve made, but you get the idea.  I think one of the greatest releases for me has been to figure out this truth: we have a role in the Kingdom of God but we are not the Kingdom of God. Other churches can do the things we’re not doing.  Other people will fill roles I can’t fill. 

Most of us assume we have to do everything to be effective.  What if God saw us as most effective at doing one or two things?  There are some things you or your organization does that you are simply great at or could be great at. Michael Phelps is a classic example of this. He’s not the entire Olympics, but he’s an incredible swimmer.  And to become a great swimmer, he had to say no to becoming a great tennis player, an NBA player, a Harvard student or whatever else he might have become.

Not everything you or I do brings equal results. How much time do we spend on things that bring little to no reward, often in the name of being “well rounded”?  Why not stop doing that and start focusing on the few things that bring greatest results?

What scares you about this?  What excites you?

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My name is Carey Nieuwhof. I'm a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church. I'm married to Toni and we have two grown sons. I'm incredibly passionate about helping people thrive in life and leadership. That's why I write blogs and books, like my latest best-seller Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects But Everyone Experiences, host a weekly leadership podcast, speak to leaders all over the world and produce courses like the The High Impact Leader.