As I sit here today, I am challenged with a desire to do more of what I am called to do, but it seems like every time I turn around, there is one more thing to do that drags me away from the mission. It is frustrating but I believe that it is also something called – life. Unless we are monks in a monastery all by ourselves, in perfect conditions and total focus, all which is impossible (the perfect conditions and total focus are the impossible parts – the monk thing, I might look good in my Monk of the Month Robe… js). Anyway, as I sit here, a bit frustrated, I see that some of these tasks that pull us away are simply unavoidable and necessary parts of being human and helping others. I am also ashamed to say that my frustration is probably a little selfish and ultimately, isn’t helping others part of everyone’s mission in life? – YES!

BUT…

I was watching a video of Ben and Erin Napier of the HGTV show, Hometown, Hometown Takover and Ben’s Workshop, talk about the deluge of things that come their way and how they have had to get really good at saying no, to a lot of things. They went on to say that they have to say no to preserve their family and to keep focused on the few things that are important in life. My wife and I were recently in Laurel, MS and got to see their shops, some of the homes they have renovated, the murals that Erin has designed and we even got a sneak peek at the outside of their home – beautiful but not outrageous. I have to say that the things that they are saying yes too, are the right things, at least from the outside looking in.

One of the challenges that I have faced is dealing with the word – NO. I have not been very good at it in the past and I have to say that I became completely overwhelmed and my life became a chaotic mess. I was managing but it wasn’t pretty and I was always exhausted. My health suffered, by gaining weight, and the mission before me at that time, building and growing a church suffered as well.

For my own protection, I had to learn to say no. But what is interesting about it today, 6 years later, I am able to do more important work than ever before. I have empowered others to do what needs to be done, but does not need to be done by me. It is great – but so are my responsibilities, great that is. I have to keep my eyes on a few important things and manage them very well. This gives me the time to plan, write and be a little strategic in my mission.

Part of my process for keeping things simple is to start my day early. I read the book, The 5AM Club, Robin Sharma, and he hit the need to get up early and get focused, right out the ballpark. (Honestly, I think I have now listened to every book he has written on Audible.) I’m a true believer in my morning routine of exercise, meditation/devotional, journaling, planning and professional development. I feel like this helps me in every way and keeps the most important things in my life where they need to be – AT THE TOP OF THE LIST! It helps me to keep things simple. I like simple.

If we can keep things simple and say no to the wrong things… even though some may be really good things, it will become transformative in our life. We will be more productive in the best things and we will feel good about our lives – because we know that we have made a difference.

Dr. Cliff