Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Give Yourself Permission to Say No

When I entered the ministry it was like a dream come true.  I couldn’t have been happier.  I was thrilled to be doing God’s work, helping people, and serving in the church.

Naturally I wanted to be the best servant I could possibly be…. which meant doing as much as possible and never saying No.  I’ve always been a hard worker and didn’t want to be seen as a slacker, so I worked harder and harder.

However, over time I succumbed to the grocery list of expectations that people had of me – and that I had of myself – and always said yes.  If I was called upon, I would respond no matter the time of day or night, no matter the need.  Having a day off became non existent.  If someone left a mess at church, I would clean it up.  I found myself peddling my inner bicycle faster and faster just to stay even with the demands of a growing congregation.

And the costs were high.

When I was at home I tortured myself thinking, “I ought to be out visiting right now.  What kind of pastor am I?”  When I was out making calls, I would think, “I should be home with my family right now.  What kind of husband and father am I?”  Guilt became my constant companion.  I was exhausted.  Drop-in guests were annoyances.  I worried how I would get through next weeks obligations.  My home had no sanctity – work was always there.  I lost sleep.  I was running on empty.  I was spread too thin.  Mostly I wanted to run away.

This is madness.  It’s a fast track to the burnout program the local mental health hospital!

The common thread in these scenarios is the fact that I would not say NO.

Do you have trouble saying No?

There is simply not enough time in the day for you to do all the things you want to do, much less all the things that other people want you do to.  If you are in a constant battle with your schedule and have been wondering what to cut, maybe it’s the things you should have said No to.

Doing too much, especially stuff that other people expect of you will have a draining effect upon (1) Your devotional life, (2) Your personal life, and, (3) Your family life.

Is it really worth it? NO, IT’S NOT!

Have you been saying yes to things that you don’t really need to be doing?  It’s human nature to want to help people… to be needed… and to do as much as possible, but taking on too much keeps you from other more important things.

Saying No is hard and sometimes it hurts a little to say No to people.  But you have to determine what you really need to say YES to.  That’s how you become intentional with your time.

Sometimes we have to say No to good things so that we can say Yes to what's best.

I have a large capacity for people, but I also have my limits. I need time to read, pray, be alone, reflect, and keep myself healthy. I am always doing a self-evaluation about how I am spending my time and money, what my health and eating habits are, and what spiritual disciplines I need to adopt. I then consider where I need to make adjustments in my life. Most of the time this requires that I say No to some things. Usually I have to say no to myself as much as I have to say no to others. This is the very thing that keeps me sane and healthy. It also keeps me from being yanked around by the tyranny of the urgent.

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