Last time we talked about How To Help Others (or yourself) Find White Space? in the work day and this blog is the Weekend Edition, plus evenings.
Let’s start with a story.
When my kids were younger I was visiting with a neighbor, Gala, when the phone rang. The person on the other end asked her if she could work in the nursery at church that week and she said, “No, I’m sorry I can’t do that.”
SHE STOPPED THERE.
She didn’t tell them she needed to check her calendar. She didn’t say she needed to check with her husband. She didn’t even give them a reason. She just said no.
I was astounded. Could I do that? My reference point before that moment was that I couldn’t say just no, but that moment changed me.
From then on I felt released. I said yes when I wanted to or knew I should, and no when I couldn’t or even when I just didn’t want to.
I took control of my life.
Matthew 5:37 says, “ All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.“
The entire Bible is woven with personal choice as a core value. When we do things out of obligation we get ourselves in trouble. Obligation steals time from opportunity. If we were all functioning where we belong doing what we were designed to do, we would change the world. Instead, 20% of the people do 80% of the work and are often frustrated with their lives.
Maybe we need to consider more carefully what we are saying yes to and discern if we’re being motivated by obligation.
Now, don’t hear me wrong. There is a big difference between obligation and responsibility. I chose my family and I am responsible to them. I chose to work and am responsible to do it.
The tricky part is the extras.
How do you decide what to say yes to?
When you say yes to things outside your strengths you are promising time to those items and thereby limiting the amount of time available for the things you’re really best suited to invest in.
Heres’s how it works for me. See if you have other qualifiers you can add to the list and comment below!
- I set aside a full Sabbath day each week. For me that means no work, no checking email or Facebook, no taking or making phone calls and not even talking to my family about work issues. It’s a discipline, but well worth the effort.
- I plan fun things for that day, sometimes quiet and reflective things, but usually a bike ride or kayaking trip and a long visit at a coffee shop. Having things outside of work and family that you do just for yourself is important for refreshing your soul. (If you are not sure what you would do if you had the time, it might be a clue that you need to develop some things you like to do.)
- Since rest and balance are important to me I live that out and choose the amount of nights or weekend slots available for other things. I like to have more nights open than filled, but to each their own. Plan your fun and rest and you will likely have more of it!
- When I am offered an opportunity I assess my availability and interest.
- If I am not available – I either just say no or I consider if I should offer another date. I am fine with being unavailable if I have planned to spend time with my family or even alone.
- I do not give a quick yes. I weigh the cost of the yes considering what I will have to give up to follow through.
- I pray about it! Seriously, how often do we say a quick yes and wish we would have thought things through a bit first.
- Personally, I have some rules that may or may not be right for you but I don’t do parties – no Wicker, Mary Kay, Tupperware and the like for me. I don’t even do most showers. My unique problem is that I just have so many young people for friends that if I say yes to one I feel like I should say yes to all and that could keep me pretty busy (and pretty broke).
- I say yes then when I come across an opportunity that I feel God is leading me to – that means I may be uniquely qualified or especially interested, but it also means I am available for His leading on the fly.
Let’s follow Jesus lead. When He came to the pool of Bethsaida He didn’t heal everyone he saw, he actually stepped over needy people to come to one certain man. This guy didn’t even know who Jesus was. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, his reply was that he needed someone to get him to the pool when it was stirred. So, Jesus didn’t choose him because of his need or for his faith. He chose him because the Father was leading him.
How often are we led by need or by obligation when instead we need to be more choosey like Jesus?
If you can’t do all you think you should do, something is broken. God never asks us to do more than we can.
So, what do you need to do to get control of your white space?
How will you decide what to say yes to? How will you just say no when you need to?
Any thoughts or rules you have that I didn’t mention?
For those of you on the asking side of stuff that need to get done, we’ll be looking at that next time.