I think I have a problem.
There’s a word I have been saying for the past few years that keeps getting me into trouble. Now, I try not to use certain words, but this one seems unavoidable. That word? Brace yourselves… I’m not sure you can handle this kind of honesty.
The word is “yes.”
Yes. Three letter. A millisecond of verbiage that leads to days and weeks of regret. Now don’t get me wrong, yes isn’t always a bad thing. When you proposed, hopefully they said yes. When you’re sworn in to give testimony in court, you affirm or say yes to the oath. When your pastor asks you to help out with a ministry, you say yes (please?).
I suppose it’s not in saying yes at all that I err. It’s in what I say yes to. When I was a teenager, I kept mostly to myself. I had lots of spare time. So when someone needed volunteers, sure, sign me up! And while that seems like a good thing, it has stayed with me my whole life.
I mean, there are SO MANY people, organizations, charities, and worthy causes that need our help. Local historical society? Check. Church? Check. Political party? You betcha. Professional development for work? Sure. Need to take some online classes? Why not?
Oh, and that’s not even counting if you have kids and everything they are into.
PTO, after-school, sports, traveling sports teams, conditioning for sports, and conditioning for conditioning. Parent Teacher conferences. Fundraisers so the kids and get involved in even MORE stuff. We sign up to help with Biddy-League. We coach t-ball. We make meals for the teams. And it’s great. We tell ourselves that some day we will miss all this.
And what I am realizing isn’t that someday I will miss all “this.” It’s that I am missing on a lot now.
Don’t get me wrong. I am involved with a lot of the above-mentioned activities. They are worthwhile enterprises. But I am slowly coming to the realization that I am missing out on so much.
I used to be a big reader. I mean hundreds and hundreds of books, mostly non-fiction. If I’m lucky I can make it to chapter two before losing interest anymore because I am on the go so much.
I used to stay outside until dark on any evening above freezing. I used to get up and watch the sun rise (ok, maybe that happened twice, but you get my point).
See, here’s the danger in saying yes: When you say yes to something, you are saying no to countless other things. Saying yes to something necessitates that you can’t say yes to something else. You can’t be in two places at once. You may tell yourself you are a master of multitasking, but I’m learning that multitasking just means sloppily making several messes at once. My two year old is awesome at it.
So what do we say yes to? I’m still trying to figure that out. I wear so many hats. I’m a pastor, I have another part-time job, I’m a school board member, I have a wife and three kids, lead a community association. These are all great! But I recognize that I am not giving any of them the time they deserve. In my attempt to be all for all, I am ending up letting them all down while wearing myself out.
I’d love to be able to give you a black and white answer for what you need to say yes to. But that’s something you need to figure out. I can, however, give you a blueprint. (Disclaimer: I stole this from Jesus)
In Matthew 6:33 (NLT), Jesus says, “Seek the Kingdom of God* above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
See, if you grew up in church, you know that verse, but if you’re like me, you only apply it haphazardly. Above all, seek God. That means Jesus comes first. Before work. Before play. Even before you kids and significant other. I know, it’s heresy to the American way of life, which just throws Jesus in on the sidelines. But if you want something different, you have to do something different.
Then comes your spouse and kids. If you don’t have either, hey, you just saved a lot of time! Then comes your work. Then, and only then can you afford to add in the extras. Then you volunteer at church. You coach little league. You sign up for the extra class.
And it’s not easy. I hate telling people “no.” I’m terribly afraid of disappointing people. So I end up over-committing.
Heck, I even did it with this column. I LOVE to write. When I was asked to be a columnist, I jumped at the idea. But it ended up being just one more thing on the plate that was already piled way too high. But as I trim down my schedule and make room for what I feel is important, this provides me with a creative outlet. Thanks for being part of my therapy session for today, folks. I hope you got something out of it. I know I did.
Adam Will is a native of Meigs County, residing in the Texas Community with his wife and three children. He is the Lead Pastor of Mount Hermon United Brethren in Christ Church. He loves reading, engaging with others, and seeing people transformed by following Jesus. You can dialogue with him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or listen to his messages by going to Mount Hermon’s website at www.mounthermonub.org