When I was in college, I loved talking about how many extra-curricular activities I was involved in. Friends would list the three or four clubs, teams, or intramurals that they were involved in when we weren’t in class, and I would laugh, then proceed to list my own 14 or 15 activities (I’ll spare you that list now).
I prided myself in my busyness, my ability to dabble in everything, while still maintaining an good (never great; I didn’t have time for that) GPA.
I would like to go back and tell that vivacious girl she was setting herself on a track headed for derailment.
The fact is you can’t stay on the fast track forever. Eventually you will run out of steam and collapse, too exhausted to find a way to get back up again.
In the (in)courage blog “The Courage of No,” Jennifer Dukes Lee writes of a time when she attempted to do it all, saying yes to an opportunity to serve on a nonprofit’s board of directors, when she truly didn’t have the time.
Lee says that she accepted the opportunity for three reasons: “I was honored that she asked. I didn’t want to let her down. And I didn’t have the courage to say ‘no’ to a good thing.”
In this case, saying yes was a mistake. By agreeing to more than she could handle, all of her commitments suffered.
“I learned a lot from my mistake,” Lee writes. “I learned that God never intended us to say ‘yes’ to every good thing that comes our way. I also learned that it takes a lot of courage to say ‘no’ to an enticing offer.
“Sometimes courage sounds like a ‘yes.’ But sometimes it sounds like a ‘no.’”
Lee offers six guidelines of when to say no to a seemingly good opportunity:
1. Know who you are.
“It’s tempting to tie our worth to our yeses, our hustle, and our ability to get ‘er done. But women who have a clear sense of purpose and identity in Christ are able to say no without letting it prescribe something about their worth,” Lee says.
When your identity is in Christ, the pressure is off to have an identity as the supermom, or the driven ladder-climber. When your identity is in Christ, the only “yes” you have to say is to following Him.
2. Know your priorities.
Lee suggests, “Filter every request through the prism of your core values and calling. If it doesn’t pass the priorities test, it might be a sign that you should decline.”
Are you doing everything to the glory of God? Look at your weekly activities. If something sticks out as against what God has called for your life, do yourself a favor and drop it!
3. Be resolute.
Lee writes, “Sure, it’s polite to offer some explanation for your ‘no,’ but don’t feel like you have to give a drawn-out justification, even if you know that your ‘no’ will disappoint the asker.”
It is not your responsibility to please everyone. Just keep your focus on pleasing Christ!
4. Keep perspective.
“Remember that a ‘yes’ to one thing means ‘no’ to another,” Lee says.
When you say no to a good opportunity, you are allowing God to fill your life with a great one. Don’t settle for filling your life with just the okay.
5. Remind yourself that your “no” is someone else’s “yes.”
Lee advises, “Your ‘no’ may open the door for another soul to learn, lead, and serve.”
When you decline an opportunity you’re not called to, you’re allowing another person who is passionate about it to fill your place. That is a gift to both of you.
6. Hear God’s big yes over you.
“Know that when you need to say ‘no,’ God is still in your corner, pouring all kinds of yes down on you!” Lee says.
God is your biggest cheerleader. His plans for your life are perfect (Jer. 29:11). Follow Him. Trust Him. Pray for His guidance. And you will find the “yes” you are meant to do.
Crosswalk.com contributing writer Cindi McMenamin says that as opportunities present themselves, you must determine which ones are from God. Most notably, opportunities from God require you to depend on Him.
In the Crosswalk.com article “3 Ways to Know if an ‘Open Door’ is from God,” McMenamin writes, “...if you find yourself saying ‘I can't do this unless God goes before me,’ or ‘I can do this, but only with God's help and leading’ I would say, in my personal experience, it's likely something God is calling you to do.”
Will the open door in your life cause you to lean on God more than you ever have before? Take it with your trust in the Lord, and don’t look back!
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap.
Publication date: May 20, 2016