“Just ask Jacque, she doesn’t say No.” Those words pulled my attention away from the notes I was making in front of me. I was sitting in a planning meeting lately when I heard my friend say that exact sentence. I just shrugged, because it’s true.
Or at least it was.
I’ve had this problem my whole life, and I know from experience that it can lead me down the wrong path. I’ve always wanted to fit in, spending most of my time just on the edge of the action. I have always been friends with the cool-kids, but never really part of their group. And as an easily influenced teen? That quickly sent me down the path venturing to the wide gate.
But I wasn’t talking about sin and temptation. I was saying yes to helping people. I was going to collect food for the needy. I was going to help clean the storage closet at church. I was going to help a friend by picking up her kids from school while she was at work. Lead a Girl Scout Troop. The list goes on and on, and this was all by noon on Tuesday.
A friend reached out to me, telling me I was looking a bit ragged. But I was saying yes to things that I knew God would want me to. I was helping people, and isn’t that what he’s all about?? Besides, Proverbs 31:18b says “And her lamp does not go out by night.” (So it’s ok that I’m running myself ragged, right? Right?)
I can find countless verses about doing good deeds, so I felt like I was doing pretty good.
- Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) – A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
- Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
- Matthew 23:11 – The greatest among you will be your servant.
- 1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
The same week of the “Jacque always says yes” comment, I was in another meeting where a woman I admire told me that by saying “yes” to something God isn’t really calling me to do, I’m stealing someone else’s blessing.
That hit me hard. But (thankfully) I was smart enough to realize that God had placed those two comments so close together so that I would get his message. And I did. Loud and clear.
I looked at my jam-packed planner and realized that not only was I rushing through some tasks to get more things checked off, I was neglecting many things all together. My daughter’s school work hadn’t made it onto my planner in over a week! (Thankfully, we homeschool – so I can keep doing it well into the summer to make up for lost time there!) I was distracted during church services, thinking through my next project and not listening to the sermon, and despite being only May? I was now nearly 2 months behind in my “Read the bible in a year” plan!
And on top of all the things I wasn’t doing? I was a part of several projects that I didn’t like doing, I didn’t feel called to do and were just plain a bad fit for me. I was constantly making meals for people who had major life events – something I hate doing. I never know what to make, I never know if they have allergies, etc. But I was doing this job I hate, because I felt like ‘someone has to’. Then I heard someone say they loved doing it! I quickly put them in contact with the lady who scheduled these dinners, and took my name permanently off the list.
By doing something I disliked so much? I was stealing someone else’s chance to do ministry. This minimal task now off my plate? I could dedicate some extra time to other ministries (like this blog) that I feel more called to.
I still struggle, my default is still to say “Sure, I’ll do it!” but I’m learning to step back and pray. To ask God if he really wants me to do this, or if I’ve got some other motive than for His glory.
Learning to say no, to stop stealing other peoples blessings? I have opened up my calendar, I have been able to spend time with God and my family that I wasn’t before. And God has blessed me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Just days after the “Jacque always says yes” incident? I got a call from Jodi asking if I would want to help with this blog. I prayed, and thought, and realized that God was calling me here. I love blogging. I love writing and sharing my experiences, and I feel like God can use me here. (Moreso than cooking another dish of tater-tot casserole for someone I don’t really know.)
In the few months I’ve been saying no? I’ve learned that God doesn’t want me to feel overwhelmed and pressured. He doesn’t want me to stress over little details that I know nothing about. It’s not weak, or selfish to say no, especially after prayerfully asking God if this is really the direction he wants you to go.
Philippians 4:6 says Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. God wants us to pray, over every little detail, and if we are silent and wait? He will lead us in the direction that we are supposed to go. This goes not just for our requests, but for our goals in serving Him.