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The value of saying no

Over the last few years,  one of my great passions  has been the topic of rest. Someday, I will write an article made up of my notes from a year of research on rest…

As I have spoken recently on various topics, it keeps coming up!  It doesn’t seem to matter what the topic is:  marriage, parenting, adolescent issues, teaching… when the Q&A time comes, questions seem to always come up about busyness!

How many activities is too many for my children?

How do I draw healthy boundaries with my students?

As a pastor, I am always asking people to do things… to be involved in things… to step up into leadership and ministry.  I want them to say yes, or I wouldn’t ask.

However, I have a higher hope for them…

To be able to live the life of ministry that God has for them, not the one that our culture, nation, city, church, has for them.  Not even what their pastor has for them… or us.

New reasons for saying no

I honestly believe that even though God doesn’t have to prioritize things, He knows that we do.

I even think it makes sense that His ministry priorities for us are:

  • Our relationship with Him and obedience to Him.
  • Marriage – the ministry of sacrificing for our spouse.
  • Parenting – our ministry of discipling our children.
  • Other disciples and friends and ministries.

I believe in these and I try to live by them.

I believe that it is right to put my relationship personal and communal relationship with God first.  I don’t always practice this, I admit, but I do believe it.

However, it is a nasty habit that I have to do the things of God, plan the things of God, and strategize the things of God… without interacting with God nearly as much as I know would be best for me.

I admit that I like to be busy.In fact, I will mention that I am one of those people who have a hard time resting.

I like being busy..

I like doing…

I hope I don’t just like doing busy… but I do know that…

I don’t like saying no to things.

If it sounds fun, then I hate to miss out on the fun.

My vanity makes me think everything is important,

My pride leads me to believe that I am the one who needs to take care of anything important!

My insecurities make me afraid of not being chosen…

And my fears make it hard for me to say no in case it might make someone not want to choose me next time.

And I am not even really a people-pleaser!  Man, what is it like for you guys who are?

With all of that in mind, I was given a parable years ago by a seminary professor that has probably kept me as nearly sane as I am… and I want to share it with you in case it helps you…

Yes, even if it is me you need to say no to someday.

First he asked us how long it took Jesus to heal people.

Our class decided, what with all the teaching and stuff that often took place in the midst (and the whole spit and mud classic), to average it out at one minute.

Then he asked us how effective Jesus was – of the people He attempted to heal, how often did He do so and how completely?

We discussed the passage in Mark when Jesus doesn’t perform miracles back in His hometown (Mark 6:4-6)… and the two part miracle of a blind man (John 9) but still decided that His track record was perfect… anyone He attempted to heal was healed.  100%.

Effective and efficient.  100% healed in one minute.

Next time – the actual parable…