Nurture Or Dismiss

Growing up, my family used to have a lot of animals that would wonder into our yard. These animals would often come around for a few days and vanish the next week. Occasionally, though, a dog or a cat would wonder into the yard and stay around a little while. When this happened, our family had to make decision whether to keep the animal or take it to a shelter.

When I was about 10 years old, a dog came around that I just couldn’t leave alone. Within a few weeks, I had taught this stray dog to sit, shake hands, and lay down on command. I had nurtured this dog from a homeless mutt into a well-trained family pet.

In leadership, sometimes we’re faced with the decision to nurture or dismiss –
a person, a project, a volunteer, a task, or an idea.

To nurture one of these things means that we still believe that it has potential, that we believe it’s worth our time, that we still see it’s value in the future.

It takes time to nurture something….

To take special time and gentle attention to help someone or something reach its full potential.
To develop an idea to its action step and think it out to its completion.

Sometimes, though, we need to dismiss the person, project, task, or idea.

Sometimes, it’s not worth our time to work on a task that isn’t going anywhere productive.
Some ideas, no matter how long they’re nurtured, aren’t going to develop into solid processes or creations.
Some people are going to be beyond or outside our area of expertise and need us to dismiss them so that someone else can develop them.

Don’t dismiss when you can nurture.

Lean towards being willing to nurture long before you consider dismissing.

After all,

That task could lead to something earth shaking.
That idea could change your organization or the world.
That person could be nurtured into a powerful leader.


  1. There seems to be such a find line between nurturing or dismissing. I’ve found that I often come into a project, friendship, or situation with a preconceived idea of how it’s going to turn out. When the person or idea doesn’t measure up to my expectations, I’m quick to dismiss. That’s when God gently reminds me that it’s not about me. He’s called us to serve (nurture).

    We aren’t called to nurture every idea, project, or relationship. He’s makes clear to us who/what to nurture based upon what He’s written on our hearts.

  2. I’m very picky when it comes to who I invest my time in – not because I don’t believe people are worth it or that I’m some like super awesome mentor – but I know that my time is limited, and I would rather nuture someone into their potential, than promise to nuture someone and end up dropping the ball or not investing in them at the level I should.

  3. Nice article. So true that sometimes you can work and work with someone and it seems that nothing is “sticking”. Reminds me of sharing the Gospel you can repeat it until you are blue in the face but maybe your job is just to plant a seed and then someone else comes along an waters and PRESTO! They understand and really, the time you have spent never fell on deaf ears after all. YEP sometimes we need to DISMISS (dust off your feet).


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