I am “rerunning” this post because…I need it! Yesterday I received an e-mail asking me to do something way beyond my comfort zone, and then in the afternoon I got a phone call along the same lines but a bigger and scarier opportunity. My first inward response was panic and the thought, “Who, me?!” So many other people would do a better job. But the principle in this post had been instilled in me. Plus I have been somewhat dismayed when I’ve asked someone to do something ministry-related and received a panic-stricken “no” as an answer when I had hoped that they would give God a chance to help them and work through them.
This was originally posted Feb. 21, 2007, so some of my newer readers might not have seen it, and it is something I need to remind myself of often.
Any article or book you read or talk you hear about managing time will include this point: you have to be willing to say no to some activities. Especially in this day and age when opportunities to do things or have your kids involved in things abound on every hand, sometimes we just have to put our foot down and say “No” to maintain our sanity and keep some kind of reasonable schedule.
On the other hand……sometimes we say no without really considering what the Lord would have us do. All we know is that we can’t take on another thing.
Some years ago I was on a committee of ladies at church who took turns putting up bulletin boards to highlight 2-3 of our missionaries at a time each month. This committee was a part of the Ladies Missionary Prayer Group at that church. At that point in time they elected officers every year, and at one fall meeting, the president told us that that nominations had been made for the following year and the officers would be contacting those ladies who had been nominated to let them know and find out if they were willing and able to accept. She then said with a smile, “You can’t say no until you pray about it.”
Well, Debbie, the officer over that committee, told me I had been nominated for that office. My first response was, “But….I’ve been waiting all year to get off this committee!” That was not very encouraging to Debbie, I’m sure. But I just didn’t feel the liberty to say no, so I said yes. A week or two or so later Debbie came to me and told me that the other nominees had not accepted, and therefore I was “it.” She remarked that that must have been the Lord’s will. I responded, “No…the other ladies are out of the Lord’s will for not accepting the nomination.” I was so spiritually-minded, wasn’t I? I think she thought I was teasing, or else she would have rethought my nomination.
I did fulfill that year, and even though bulletin boards are not my forte, I really saw the Lord give some great ideas and some great people to help on the committee. I learned something about leadership. I learned to seek Him when frustrated because I couldn’t find help. I learned about the ups and downs of working with people. I don’t know if I can say I “enjoyed” that year, but I did learn a lot and I grew spiritually and as a person.
A few years later when an opportunity came along that was more scary and involved more work, I was able to face it with the confidence that if the Lord wanted me to do it, He would enable me. And He did, marvelously.
For a while I went too far the other way, thinking that anything that anyone in the church asked me to do must be from the Lord. We can get in over our heads really quickly that way.
Since then there have been times I have felt completely free to say no and have seen the Lord bring in someone else for that opportunity who did a wonderful job, much better than I would have done if I had taken it out of a sense of duty.
But the important thing is to pray over it first, before you decide it’s out of your comfort zone or that you don’t have the time or the skills. Sometimes the Lord delights in pulling out of our comfort zone and into dependence on Him for the abilities and the time. Sometimes He wants us to lay something else aside to do what He wants us to. Look in Scripture at people who were happily minding their own business when God came to them with something He wanted them to do (Moses, Noah, Peter, Paul) and think not only what history would be like, but what their lives would have been if they had said no.