I recently had to tell a friend no to a very important request. I knew the request was coming and every time I thought about saying no, my stomach turned a little. Even though I knew it was the right decision, it didn’t make me feel any better about it because I don’t like saying no. It feels like I’m letting the person down; almost as though their life can’t continue if they don’t have my yes. I know how ridiculous that sounds. To think I have that much influence in someone’s life, is just not realistic. It’s like saying God can’t use anyone but me and I know that’s not true.
The past six or so months, I’ve attempted to master the skill of saying no. Not because I don’t want to be helpful to others, but because some circumstances are not helpful to me. It causes stress that affects other areas of my life. Sometimes I don’t have any room on my plate for anything else and instead of trying to pile something else on, I need to say no. I can be a better friend, employee, family member, and Christian when I can give a whole hearted yes and not an obligated yes. When I do the latter, I find myself resenting the person because I said yes. They didn’t force me; I made a choice. And I’ve started choosing to say no more often.
There are times in life when saying yes is inconvenient and we simply don’t want to, but it allows us to be a blessing and we should say yes. It can be difficult to differentiate between those times and the obligated yes. I’m still figuring that part out, but one tip I can give you is to truly seek God first. No agenda, no preconceived notions, just a simple “what would You have me to do, God?” Trust the answer He gives you and if it’s a no, trust that the people in your life will accept your no as the best answer you could give.
Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
What are you committed to? What cause do you give 100% to? I’ve had this conversation with myself a few times this past week and I kept drawing a blank. Commitment is being involved whole heartedly and consistently giving your best. I wanted to say I was committed to church because I’m there a lot but I realized a lot of times all I do is show up. I don’t give everything I’ve got simply because I don’t want to or it inconveniences me. I wanted to say teaching but if I’m honest, I could do so much more (I know teachers are underpaid and blah blah, but in a lot of areas, I could still do better). Then I thought about my friends and peers who have similar stories, and some of them don’t even know it. Sometimes we show up and we rationalize in our head that we’ve done our part but there are no participation trophies when it comes to commitment. You don’t get anything for showing up. You must do something and do it to the best of your ability.
A lot of times we’re committed to other people; sometimes to people who aren’t committed to us. We give them everything we got to fulfill everything they need. Whether it’s a significant other, friend, relative, we are committed to them. But when commitment does not have a face or a name or a quick reward or recognition, can you still be committed? Will you still be willing to plan the event that hardly anyone attended last year, but you know impacted the few who were there? Will you give more of your time and money to make it better than before? Or will you just “support,” like everyone else did? Will you participate in the conference calls? Show up early to help setup? Make whatever amends necessary to work peacefully with everyone?
I’ve said it many times before: I love doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. So the idea of commitment is the complete opposite of how I want to live my life. But a few caring friends have let me know it’s not about me and I’ll be the caring friend to let you know, “it’s not about you.” Anyone can show up and be counted as present, even have a good time while they’re there. It takes special people to do the work and do it well. I’m the best show-er up-er there is. I can even make it look like I’m doing something well, but in the end I’m only fooling myself. I’m all about being gentle with yourself and knowing your limit and self-care, but I’m learning that commitment means pushing my own feelings aside sometimes.
Jesus didn’t just show up on earth; He did something while He was here and He did it well. We should keep that same energy when it comes to our gifts and our purpose and our church and our jobs. I’m not saying hop on every committee you can or say yes to everything you’re asked to do to show how committed you are. Doing that will actually cause you to be committed to nothing. I’m saying choose something and truly be committed to it. Don’t just get by, don’t do just enough, don’t just support, don’t throw money at it; do the work. It’s a sad case when we’re always supporting our friends and families and what they’re committed to but they can never support what we’re doing because we’re not committed to anything. You may never see the outcome of your commitment, but like I said, it’s not about you.