Saying “No” So You Can Say Your Best “Yes”
I’ve heard it said that we have a choice every day to walk into the room with our own emptiness, or with the fullness of God. It’s a choice to operate out of a place where our internal reservoirs of time, energy, emotions, and spiritual well-being are sapped dry or filled from the provision of God. And it’s a choice that comes down to saying a confident yes to what really matters, and gracefully declining the rest.
There is an outcry for something called “me time” in the world today. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Chocolate companies and spa services alike sell us the idea that if we can just escape from our busy-bee routines for even a moment, then all of our problems would melt away. Maybe your “me time” are those moments of seclusion between kids, work, two jobs, or just the jungle of everyone’s needs. It’s that time at the gym, or the morning with your cup of coffee, that you crave, fight for and keep in your foresight as motivation to get through the rest. And if we’re honest, “me time” is usually the first thing we cut when the demands of other people pull at our heartstrings and our schedules.
We have to be our own biggest advocates for carving our margin for God to fill us. Well, aside from God. He knows we need it. He wired us in such a way that we operate best when He is at the top of our priorities. The best yes we can give every day, way before we start saying no to some things that are robbing us, is to wake up and ask God, “What is your assignment for me today?” Our purpose for the day takes shape when we ask Him to align our priorities with His, to help us discern what opportunities to invest in, and to recommit our hearts to Him so that His approval is the only voice that matters. This is the most important decision we can make on a daily basis, right from our waking moments. It from that place that we can begin to know what to firmly say “no” to.
I watched a teaching by Pastor Ed Young about a principle he called leaderskip. Essentially, we have to learn how to skip the superfluous and land on the significant. As leaders, and as humans, we simply cannot do it all. And many times, our best yes is marred in an attempt to do so.A lot of opportunities come across our path on the daily, and many of them are even wrapped as an overlap of things that can serve people, benefit the world, or build God’s Kingdom. However, not everything we have the opportunity to do is a part of God’s significant, set aside before all of time, hand-crafted assignment for our day. Doing noble works, checking off to-dos, and filling up our schedules can be out of a good heart, but if it isn’t aligned with God’s best for us, we are just doing ourselves a disservice.Plot twist, I know. But before you feel trapped in some spiritual manifestation of one of those video games where you collect the coins but jump and duck obstacles, there’s good news. We don’t have to be the authors and creators of our God-assignment. He already did that, and He is so pumped up to share it with us. So how do we know what to say yes to and what to skip over?
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” –James 1:5
He desires to guide and bless our life. The wisdom He gives can help us make choices in line with His will. When we are in His will, we are blessed beyond measure––and not just in this life. The Bible teaches us we are rewarded in heaven for how we steward our days on earth. Because our hearts steer our course, influencing every aspect of our life, it’s absolutely critical that we bring our heart into alignment with the heart of our great God. And in that process, every decision we make matters.In her book “The Best Yes”, Lysa Terkeurst shares a decision-making principle that has helped me tremendously. She explains how we can “chase down” a decision by following it all the way to the end in our minds:“The decisions we make today matter. Every decision points us in the direction we are about to travel. No decision is an isolated choice. It’s a chain of events. So we’ve got to get good at chasing down our decisions. We need to look ahead to see where they will take us—and make sure that’s really where we want to go.”
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” –John 16:13a
He has come. He is living and active within us, guiding us through every stretch of life’s journey. It starts with reading His Word and internalizing it to recall in any situation. That develops into learning to hear and trust His voice above the rest. If we choose to listen to the warnings He gives us, the wisdom He shares, and the direction He nudges us in daily, we’ll stay in step with what God wants to do in our life. We can depend on Him to lead us in the way of His God-designed assignment for our life, and leave those extra things behind without any guilt or second-guessing.When we spend time with God and build that relationship, He fills our life with His priorities, His leadership, His characteristics–He fills our life with Himself to be both filled and overflowing for the sake of others. My pastor, Clay NeSmith, put it this way: “Stay under the spout where the glory comes out.” He used an illustration where we are a vessel, like a jar, for the power, presence, and priorities of God to flow in and through. We have areas of our life that are unnecessary as if there’s some food coloring at the bottom. In his illustration, that represented sin. And since sin is just missing the mark of God’s standard for our life, I’m confident that can specifically represent the superfluous things in our life that are tainting our focus, purpose, and ability to fulfill our God-given assignment. As that vessel stayed under a constant flow of water, representing spending time with God and allowing His Spirit to make deposit after deposit in our life, that food coloring was purged out and clean water flowed in and through. If we move our lives up under God’s leadership and spend time daily getting to know His voice, we can purge the things we don’t need to be spending our energy on and start walking in our assignment with clarity and significance. To come to God daily with that as our heart—that is our very best yes.