Say No to Saying Yes in Your Ministry

Posted by Aaron Buer on January 9, 2020

Welcome to 2020! 

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m living in a sci-fi movie. 

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the 1900s but the year 2020 feels like hover-boards, vacations to the moon, and robot butlers.  

Anyway, a question for you: Do you have any goals for 2020? 


Maybe you’re a resolutions person, or perhaps you have goals in mind for your church or ministry. 

Perhaps God has placed something on your heart to run after in 2020.  

Recently, I spent some time in the book of Nehemiah. 

Here’s a guy who understood goals.

He set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 

He called it a “great work.”

Maybe it would be helpful to think of your goals for 2020 as your great work in this season.  

I love the book of Nehemiah because it is like a guidebook for leadership and ministry. 

Nehemiah is called by God to accomplish a great work and he runs into all kinds of obstacles and resistance along the way. 

How Nehemiah responds, how he trusts God, and how he perseveres—it’s all there in this inspirational and instructional book.

It could be a pivotal book to read as you pursue your goals in early 2020.  

In Nehemiah 6, we encounter one of the strategies of Nehemiah’s enemies:  

Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.


But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”

Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.

Nehemiah’s enemies were attempting to distract Nehemiah from his great work.  Four different times they sent him a message, inviting him to meet with them.    

Here’s the deal: There is something that God is calling you to do this year, it might be ministry related, it might be family related, it might be about your health. 

Our enemy will attempt to distract you from this great work.  

  • If your great work is to spend more quality time with your kids, a distraction will pop up—another golf league, a special project, a new ministry opportunity.
  • If your great work is to pursue financial health, there will be distractions and they’ll likely be shiny and electronic.
  • If your great work is to focus your church staff team around a specific mission, there will be other ministry opportunities that arise that could distract you from your goal.  

As you pursue your personal and ministry goals in 2020, it would be wise to expect distraction.  

So, here’s a question to consider in 2020: What do you need to say no to in order to pursue your great work?  

Last summer, I had to say no to something for the first time in 30 years—beach volleyball. 


I’ve played two-man beach volleyball every summer since I was ten years old and last summer I said no. 


Because I’m old and washed up?


I said no because I have five kids at home and increased responsibilities and leadership opportunities at my church. 

Something was going to suffer if I said yes to everything so I said no to beach volleyball. 

Something I’ve learned is that every no is a yes.  

We have to understand that sometimes we have to say no to opportunities in order to say yes to something new. 

If you are going to pursue a great work this year, you will likely have to say no to something.  

It’s also true that every yes is a no.  

If you say yes to every opportunity and distraction this year, you will by default say no to your great work. 

This is simply the reality of limited time and resources.  

So, here’s a question to wrestle with as we step into 2020: As you look at your goals and objectives as a leader, as a ministry and as a church, what are you going to say no to in order to pursue what is most important this year?  

Wrap Up

Thanks for reading and as always, we’d love to hear from you. 

Please share your ideas, questions, objections, and future post requests in the comments below.  

Topics: Advice

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