A couple of days ago I was at the Youth Pastor’s Summit in Orlando, FL. I’ve been able to go to this wonderful event a couple of times and have found it to be a great place to have my spiritual batteries recharged. One of the sessions from this time that has given me more fuel for the fire was from Doug Fields.
Recently Doug stepped away from many of his long time responsibilities and roles in ministry to take on other things and experience a new season of life. As he shared same of his heart with us, he talked about being able to say “no” so we could hear God’s “yes”. He listed several things that one exhibits when they suffer from what I would call a “cluttered and muttered” life. Usually I am suffering from this kind of life when my desk is overrun with piles of papers that haven’t been looked at or filed. I notice my symptoms then cross over into being impatient with people and those who want to “talk” and take up my time. Being present with people during these times usually means with electronics so I can be “productive” while “present”. Anyone else ever been there?
After hearing Doug give his list of things and evaluating myself on other criteria, I felt like I needed to look hard at a few things to say “no” to so that I might be able to say “yes” to the right things. Who knew that saying “no” would ever be so hard?
Say “no” to an all-access mentality. Allowing people to have an all-access pass to me and my life is not a good practice. It sounds good and spiritual, however, I am NOT THE SAVIOR. I AM NOT GOD. Giving people access to me and my life all the time is not good. There have to be boundaries and limits. People must learn to trust in God, not me. (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46,Luke 6:12.)
There has to be times of rest and solitude. Not only will people mishandle my time if I let them, they will abuse the good nature within, which will in turn sour my spirit. Don’t give away phone numbers and invite people to contact whenever they wish or without boundaries. Furthermore, allowing technology and cyberspace to invade my innerspace is dangerous. Not publishing and posting everything about my life is ok. Not everyone needs to know about my loved ones or the people I cherish most…only the people I cherish the most need to know that! Limiting pictures and comments of and from people is a healthy practice and saying “no” to people online is really ok to do. I have to turn off the phone and TV and computer more often and allow God freedom to speak to me in silence and solitude without any kind of distractions.
Say “no” to Christian junk food. As a Christian it can be easy to substitute the real meat of the word for “worship” music or blogs or other good thoughts. However, my Spirit needs the word of God. Too much in-take of music, entertainment, etc. without the pure word of God in written or preached form makes me spiritually anemic. Meeting with God has been replaced with talking about God. We don’t need to hear more words about God. We simply need to hear from God ourselves! (Matthew 4:4)
As Christians it is easy to buy into the frenzied marketing schemes and ploys of advertising to get our dollars and attention. We consume a lot of “good” stuff and some of it just for entertainment. However, we cannot feast on this stuff. Much of it is shallow, repetitive and just plain lame! I have come to the point of realizing that what I need most is prayer and reading the word of God. No substitutes.
Say “no” to “more”. If there is anything I am accustomed to in America it’s “more”. The only thing that I need more of is God. Just wanting and consuming more without ever exercising my faith in giving and sharing will only make me a selfish spiritual hoarder. Often it’s easy to just want God’s blessings and not God Himself. God wants to bless me first with Himself and secondly with blessings that I will share with others. Spiritual hoarders only want God’s blessings for themselves. God gives more blessings that I may give more and be more of a blessing to others.
Often I can find myself taking on more things to do in Jesus name. This is not a good thing. It is important to pray and seek God before becoming “obligated” to more. God wants me to rely on him more, not myself and God wants others to rely on Him as well. Not just relying on me. Sometimes, I can take on something that God doesn’t want me to do trying to be “helpful” when God really wants me to just get out of the way!
God wants me to practice Sabbath where I acknowledge that He is God and the only one capable of doing more. Learning to say “no” to many things frees me to say “yes” to the things I was created to do and that God has prepared for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)