It’s so easy to say yes. Yes to another request, yes to being there, yes to doing it for them, yes to another idea, yes to an unrealistic deadline, yes to everyone. Soon the stack of things you’ve said yes to grows so tall that you can’t even see the things you should really be doing. I’ve never regretted saying no, but I have often regretted saying yes.
I’m going to start getting myself into the habit of saying no more often. I want my life back. I’m not going to feel guilty for saying no either. This is a matter of priorities for me. I can’t say yes to everything, meet every expectation, answer every phone call, respond to every crisis, make every hospital visit, show up to every event, accept every invitation, enter every persons home, and be at every birthday party. Between my normal office hours, leading our staff, preparing for the weekend services, plus being a husband, my time is already full. Do I really want to take what little personal time I have left of my life and fill it up with more church-related activities? No.
Behind every “no” is a more important “yes.” When I say no to something, it means I am saying yes to something bigger and more important. I’m saying yes to:
• My spiritual health
• My mental and emotional health
• My physical health
• Having some energy left over for my marriage
• My wife
• My family
• Being in control of my own personal time
• Having a personal life away from the church
• A slower pace of living
The needs of people are great, and their expectations are endless. The demands of our church are many, and the work is never done. If I don’t draw a line in the sand, all my emotional, spiritual, and physical energy will be drained. I have to be the one who says, “Whoa, I can’t do this much anymore”, because no one else will. If I continue to lead on empty I will end up in the hospital suffering from fatigue and failing health, and people will be saying, “He should have taken better care of himself.” If something is going to crash-and-burn, better it be something else than me.
Only I can give myself permission to rest or to overachieve, to pace myself or run at the pace others expect of me.