Thursday, July 2, 2009

Saying "no" so you can say "yes"

In your busy life, what do you say "no" to so you can say "yes" to the things you want to do?

There are no easy answers and it looks different for different "seasons" of life. My youngest just graduated from college in May and my life now, on its busiest day, is 100 times quieter and less busy than when I had four little ones romping around. Somehow we have bought into the idea that we have to do it all - you know, "we can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and still never let you forget that you are a man cause I'm a woman - a W-0-M-A-N!" (for those of you too young to remember that commercial, sorry!)

But back to the question...

One thing that has helped me is that I have started saying, "Let me check my calendar (husband, etc) and get back to you." This gives me some time to actually think about and to check with my husband to see if this is a good idea. (It's just courteous to consider others in your family when you are making plans!) And a further note...if you have to refuse, you don't have to "defend" your answer or tell why. Just say, "I'm sorry, I can't do that right now."

Ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" For those who are people pleasers (like myself), it is easy to take on too much. We hate to say no! We need to evaluate why we're doing what we're doing (for other's approval, praise, etc). "I want people to think well of me, so I guess I'll collect for the heart fund. I hate to disappoint Janie, so I guess I'll have a Pampered Chef party." Of course, most of the time, I never think - I just do it.

Ask yourself, "Are there others who could do this?" I have done plenty of things that were very stressful for me because I thought no one else would do it. Once I agreed to teach a high school math class when I can hardly balance the checkbook... what was I thinking? My husband used to say to me, "If no one else is willing, then maybe we really need to consider if we need this ministry." There may no one who will do it like you or even as well as you, but they may be willing to try if you say no.

Limit yourself. There will always be more things to do than time to do them. A church planter's wife can often make a list longer than her arm of things that genuinely NEED to be done. But you can't do it all. You will wear yourself out and you won't be good to anyone. It's better to pick what you enjoy (not that you ONLY get to do things you enjoy) and leave other things undone. Is it hard to know what to leave undone? Yes, but pray and ask God for guidance, then do what you can. Even when Jesus was on earth, He didn't heal or help every one. Sometimes "no" is the best word we can say.

Share with me ways that you've learned to limit your activities so you can do a better job on other things.

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