At the surface, What Matters Most is a retelling of the principles learned from Andy Stanley in both his Next Generation Leader & 7 Practices books. It comes from a talk that Doug Fields gave to student ministers on the freedom of saying NO.
I first learned the principle from reading Mr. Stanley’s books that to be the best leader sometimes you have to say no to good things. The principle which Mr. Stanley describes is called Less is More. You can get more done - & better – if you understand what your 3 or so passions & gifts are & go after those full tilt, while saying no to other good things.
I started Mr. Fields’ book a little apprehensive, thinking that it would just be more of the same. Although the concept is the same, the application is specifically to student ministers. Mr. Fields has a passion to help student leaders in every way possible. Through his Simply Youth Ministry material to his Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry, Mr. Fields produces top quality helps for student ministers, whether you are in a large congregation or a smaller one.
The first part of this book talks about the concept of “when no is better than yes.” The second is more the practical outgrowth of that & how to apply that principle to student ministry situations. He also talks about saying no to such things as noise (video games, MP3 players, etc. – not fully like the Amish, but in practicing the discipline of silence), show-&-tell (catching up with people & focusing on what you have done, or are doing), & on more ministry (empower others!).
I think that this book is helpful because it is specifically for student ministers. Mr. Fields says, “The more I speak with youth workers, the more convinced I am that those of us called to serve others find it very difficult (if not impossible) to say no to people & opportunities.”
I found this to be true in my own experience. When you are in ministry, people seem to always have an agenda for you to follow – not in a spiteful way, but God has gifted us & impassioned us in different ways - & many people assume that “if I am passionate about something, you as my pastor should be too.” Whether the expectations come from parents, students, the board, or whomever, if you make it clear that you support those agendas, but are focused on God’s calling for you, they hopefully will understand. It also is a fantastic opportunity to empower others to become leaders in those areas.
This book is a quick read that you could nail down in an hour, but the principles will stay with you for a very long time. What Matters Most is definitely worth your time & energy. Pick up a copy here for 20% off.