Monday, August 11, 2014

When to Say Yes and When to Say No

Last summer I got a call from our pastor asking me if I'd consider teaching Sunday school. I have plenty of experience. I've taught three-year-olds, four-year-olds, second-graders, even third through fifth graders. Since we move often, I've taught at several churches but not at our current church.

This is a beautiful church in downtown Indianapolis. Isn't it pretty?

I love children. Love babies. Love teens. I'm honored to share God's word with them.

Last year everything was really, really hard. I had the time, but I did not have the emotional, physical, or mental resources to take on a leadership role with our congregation's precious kids. So I declined.

I declined many things last year. And I felt guilty. Thankfully, God provided other teachers for the children. A few months later, I was spending a lot of time on the road to help my parents. My spirits were low, and I reached a critical point on my writing journey, one where I was ready to walk away. I had nothing left to give anyone.

Then, in God's great mercy, my father's situation leveled out a bit. My mom, sister, and I decided on a long-term course of action. I was offered a book contract. Slowly, my inner resources were renewed.

This summer, I smiled at the darling children in our church, and it hit me how much I missed being around them. The seed to teach was planted, but I wanted to pray about it.

Yesterday morning, our pastor announced a need for Sunday school teachers, and this time I knew it was time to say yes. I immediately volunteered. 

God does not call us to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. Sometimes we aren't even sure why we want to say no; we just don't have a good feeling or a servant's heart about the opportunity. In those cases, I think it's really important to pray for God's guidance. It's okay to say no.

Other times an opportunity comes our way and we get a twinge of excitement. Sure, we worry about the commitment, but overall we think we can manage. Those are the times to launch forward and say yes.

Remember, we all go through seasons. What feels impossible now might feel simple in two years. The important thing is to pray and allow God to guide you.

Have you ever said no to a ministry or volunteer opportunity? Did you feel guilty about it?

Have a fantastic Monday!!

16 comments:

  1. I can so relate to this. I've said no to our church leadership several times. Sometimes it's hard, but I know that it's the right thing to do. It helps me to remember that if I say yes to a position God hasn't intended for me, I'm robbing the right person of that spot. Once I was leading 6th graders, and I heard someone else mention that it was the best part of her week. For me, it had become a chore. That's when I knew it was time to step down. Now I volunteer through using my writing and editing skills. It's a perfect fit for where I am in my life.

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    1. I nodded throughout this comment. Yes, when it becomes a chore, we need to step away. It's a sign! I love that you volunteer where your passion is--perfect!!

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  2. Oh my, yes. I've said no to a LOT of things, especially in the past few years. Most of the time I've felt that requisite guilt at first--or maybe more than guilt, a worry about what the person doing the asking might think! Because even if I know I needed to say no, there's enough of a people-pleasing over-achiever (or, ahem, maybe just pride) to want other people to not think badly of me when I say no. And I can think of one time when I said no when deep down I knew it should've been a yes...so I had to go back later and take back my no. :) But yeah...definitely have had to say no to more lately...I sometimes make myself feel better by saying, "If I would've said yes, not only would I have been sorry about it, but eventually that other person/group would've been sorry they asked me because they wouldn't be getting my best."

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    1. I can really relate!!! I've wrestled with "now they think I'm a lazy jerk." I agree with you--if we can't give our best, it's better to be up front about it!

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  3. My theory, and it seems to have worked out well for me and my family, is that if I feel anxious about saying yes, and scared of saying no, then the offer is not something God has planned for me. Learning to say NO is the great, invisible albatross around the necks of so many Christian women.

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    1. I agree!! We have to listen to our gut. If we have a bad feeling or our uneasy, it's probably not the right move. And you are right--many Christian women feel trapped in positions God may have only wanted them in for a short season. It's tough.

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  4. I've had to say no to a lot of ministry (and other) opportunities lately. At first I did feel guilty, but then I realized I can't do everything, and God has called me first to be a wife, then a mom, and for now, a writer. I prioritize all the opportunities by those three criteria (for now). By the time I get through the list of things I do for my husband, my children, and my writing career, there isn't much left of me to give. Though women's ministry at my church is important to me, it doesn't fit into my life right now. However, my children will only be little for a season, and I know I will have the time later on to take on opportunities I have to say no to now. It took me many years to get to a place of peace about this...

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    1. I'm so glad you recognize how much you already are ministering--to your children, your spouse, and your readers. I'm with you--little kids take everything you've got and then some!! And they don't stay little forever. I'm proud of you!!

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  5. Like you, I always feel so guilty when I say no to things. But sometimes it just isn't possible. Good advice and a nice reminder that our lives do run in seasons...and sometimes what isn't possible now, becomes possible later.

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    1. It's been true in my own life, that's for sure! I just have to remember not to say "yes" to too many things when I'm feeling good, or I run on empty all over again. :)

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  6. So true, Jill. And I love this because it's such a reminder of how God works and waiting on him. I have a hard time saying "no" but God's really shaped that in me over the years. This was a great reminder for me.

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    1. Saying no gets much easier when we pray about it. I'm not always great about taking time to ponder a decision, but as I get older, I'm improving!

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  7. These days, with health considerations, most such requests would get a sad 'no'. But no one's been asking.

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    1. I think of all you do for those dogs--that's a big yes to me!

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