Sunday, February 20, 2011

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

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Years have come and gone since I got the first phone call . . . and the second. Twice in two weeks a well-regarded ministry leader here in my area called to make an invitation. Both times she said that while praying about a ministry position she needed to fill, my name came to her mind, and she wondered if I would be interested. I had only recently learned that I wasn't required to give an automatic yes to everything I was asked to do, so I flexed my new muscle and twice told her I would pray about it.

The reason she called twice is that the first time, I told her no. I had, true to my word, prayed and asked God whether He would have me take this position. There was nothing in my seeking of Him that gave me even the slightest whisper of a "yes" answer. I then talked to Hero Husband, and he agreed with me for many reasons that it didn't seem that I should do it.

When the second call came, I was a little confused, and almost wavered, but since I believe God is perfectly capable of giving guidance to ME directly about what He wants ME to do, again I prayed. There still was not even an inkling that God wanted me to do this, and even less desire on my part to do it. Again, I told her, "Thank you for asking, but no." I also told her that I knew God definitely WAS putting it on my heart to write and that I had to be obedient to that before I tried to take on anything else. I told her I would join her in praying that God would provide the best person for the job, and I did.

That was in the spring and the next fall when the position started, there she was, the woman God had provided for that important position. Every . . . single . . . week, I am filled with joy as I watch this woman work. She does that job, the one that held no allure for me whatsoever, either personally or spiritually, with such excellence and sparkle and with such a beautiful spirit! It is obvious that she holds her responsibilities in high regard and honors their importance with her diligence and passion for the work she does. It is clearly HER position, the one God meant for her and just as clearly, He meant HER for it! She is one continuous blossom, blooming in exactly the spot God wants her!!


What a mistake it would have been for me to cave in to the well-intentioned persistence (and unintentional pressure) of that highly respected ministry leader who initially tapped me for that job. I would have been taking something that didn't belong to me. While I could have done the job, and would have done it to the best of my ability if I had taken it, I would never have had the from-the-inside-out passion and giftedness of this truly God-chosen woman who is so perfectly placed now.

I have never again been shy or uncertain or felt guilty about responding to an invitation to service by saying, "I'm not sure, but I'll be happy to pray about it, when do you need an answer?" And after the promised prayer, if I am not sure of a "yes" answer from God, I feel completely free to decline the opportunity, confident that doing otherwise would prevent someone else from doing the thing God wants THEM to do. What freedom! And what joy in seeing God provide the right people for the work that He wants done!

One last thing--when I said, out loud, that I could not take that position because I needed to be obedient and start writing as God was directing, it put a just-right godly pressure on me to follow through. It was that same month that I started my greeting card company which later opened the door for me to start Up the Sunbeam.  In declining one opportunity, I left the way clear for someone else to find her passion, and I got serious about the passion God had already called my heart to. Win--Win!!

If you are, as I was, someone who has a hard time saying no when asked to fill a need, I pray that my experience will give you courage and help you feel that you have permission not to give that immediate 'yes.' God doesn't tell other people what He wants you to do without also telling you to do it . . . no matter what they think or how many times they come back to ask again. It is not selfish to say no to an opportunity when you know that you are leaving the way clear for someone else to walk in blessing and obedience to God's call. When you say no, look around and see if there is something you've been putting off that you KNOW God wants you to do and then GO FOR IT!!
"He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing."  Ephesians 2:10 MSG

Have you ever felt pressured to say yes?
Is there something God wants you to do that you haven't started yet?
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Joining Ann Voskamp for her Multitude Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

#311-326
311. The pleasant spice-heat of my Chicken Tikka Masala and the sweet-savory-exotic flavors of the wonderful sauce gathered by the nutty basmati rice--such a Valentine dinner!
312. The little nervous thrill of being on a date with Hero Husband who still makes my heart beat faster
313. Towering puffy white clouds
314. The captivating wild percussion of the rain after midnight
315. Clean pajamas
316. The healing power of rest
317. Kissin' curls that sneak unbidden into She So Sweet's straightened hair
318. A floor swept clean of crumbs and the satisfaction that comes of beating the chaos back into cosmos
319. Homemade Shepherd's Pie
320. The squeak of white leather high-tops on the polished wood of a basketball floor
321. Raindrops that splash


322. Our house that is a home
323. Plum blossoms that burst open like a riot of pink popcorn
324. Snow on Mt. Diablo
325. Snow-chilled air that is so UNLIKE the blazing heat of summer

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