Do You Have the Faith to Say No?

When Doing Less Requires More Faith than Doing More

The writer of Ecclesiastes said there is a time for everything. Unfortunately, I tend to think that I have time for everything.

date-62739_1920

When I stepped out from my role of running a Christian school in Ohio several years ago, we went for almost a year with no income. I tell more about the story in my book A Story Worth Telling, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t easy.

Six kids to feed, a beautiful wife to provide for, a mortgage to pay, and nothing but the belief that God had called me to write and minister to His Kingdom-at-Large.

Eventually opportunities began to surface as I kept moving forward, stumbling and learning as I went. We moved to Atlanta to position myself for maximum effectiveness.

And it all began to come together.

Now I have a different problem.

What happens when you move from having nothing to do to a place where you have so much to do that you feel overwhelmed?

The Question of When to Say When

That’s the question I’ve wrestled with for the last many weeks.

Untitled-8As you may have noticed, I took August off to focus on the Ziglar Family project. I’ve sent you a few emails of late to be the first to experience the new course and to  give you an opportunity to help your family at a significant discount.

But August turned into September. And now it’s October. And I am still feeling over-committed.

I have a few key projects on my plate in addition to the Ziglar Family effort. I LOVE what I do and more people need more help than ever.

I confess, it’s intoxicating to know people need you. It certainly is better than the year I spent wondering if I would ever be of any help to anyone ever again.

But here is one thing I’m in the process of learning–it takes faith to say no.

I really do not like saying No to anyone.

If I can help, my auto-response is that I should help. I suspect that is partly due to my personality and mostly due to a mindset that infects much of Christianity–a misunderstanding of service.

We tend to pour ourselves out for others–and think that the more spent we feel, the closer to God we are. But it just isn’t true.

When we spread ourselves too thin, we actually help less than we could have, because the quality of our help declines. The people we’re called to serve the most–our families– suffer the most.

We think we’re doing more, but we’re actually doing less–and none of it is as good as it should be.

The tough truth  I struggle to embrace is this: I can’t do it all.

I know that may seem an obvious truth, but I often think that I CAN find a way to pull it off.

But the truth is that Jesus came to the world for one purpose. His ministry remained focused on his purpose. And the same is true for me and you. If we’re not clear on our purpose, we will end up scattered and ineffective and overwhelmed and–quite frankly, worn out.

What I’m Doing about It

When I recognized my struggle with being overcommitted, I reached out for help.

I enlisted the guidance of my life coach who steered me well through my transition several years ago.

516txpkm6l-_sx332_bo1204203200_He recommended I start by reading a book by Greg McKeown called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. I HIGHLY recommend it if you have every felt overwhelmed by life (I suspect that is everyone).

I ordered it from Amazon immediately and had read it within two days of receiving it. Then I began to re-read it. Powerful and effective book.

I put up some boundaries. I set up an autoresponder in my personal email account to let people know I may not be getting back to them ASAP because of the projects on my plate. I didn’t like doing it, but it is reality. If I don’t protect my time to write and create, no one else will. And I will fail to fulfill my calling.

I enlisted the help of my wife. My wife is a guardian and better able to tell people no–or at least to tell me to tell people no. So I’ve enlisted her help with planning (an area of strength for her), which also increases accountability.

I began telling people no. I do NOT like turning down projects or telling people I can’t help them. But I began to do it. And guess what–the world didn’t end. (Ok, I confess I am still afraid that it might, but….)

I refocused on my relationship with the source of all wisdom and strength. When we get busy, one of the first things to go is our time with God and His word. I got intentional about protecting that time–and expanding that time to meditate, pray, and think.

I am slowly coming to terms with the reality that I cannot do it all. I am realizing that if I am to keep the main thing the main thing then I must turn down a lot of really good opportunities. But it is still very much a work in progress.

If I am to live a story worth telling, I must choose certain, specific paths and not try to explore all of them at once.

I believe that to be true. Now I need to act on what I believe to be true.

I’ll let you know what I discover, just in case you’ve ever felt overcommitted and overwhelmed.

Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve ever felt this same pressure to please and overcommit.

I’m hoping I’m not the first person to struggle with saying no.

Episode 24: The Challenge of Walking by Faith in the Here & Now

An Interview with Morgan Rogers of Campus Outreach

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to keep walking by faith when you’ve almost reached your destination. In spite of God’s previous blessings, why is it the mountain in front of us in the here and now always seems to be the biggest one we’ve ever faced?

Episode 006 (22)

In this episode, I share a conversation with Morgan Rogers, a young lady whose life has been transformed in the last several years by the Gospel. As a student heading out of college with a business degree, she sensed God calling her to serve with Campus Outreach.

What to Do When Your Spouse Disagrees about Your Calling

7 Reminders to Help Get on the Same Page with Your Spouse

You think you know the direction God would have you to go. You believe you have clarity about your next steps to do what God designed you to do. You may even want to leave your current job and step out in a new direction. But your spouse doesn’t see it. What do you do?

couple

A reader actually sent me this question recently. It’s one I receive fairly frequently from Christians trying to figure out God’s best for their lives. And it is an important one.

One Thing You Can Always Expect When Stepping Out

Why the "Open Door" Method of Determining God's Will Doesn't Work

Stepping out before you know how it all turns out—that’s what faith is all about. But many Christians embrace the false notion that it should be easy, or at least simple. And if it’s not, God isn’t in it.

leap-of-faith_724_482_80

But when we look at Scripture, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is one thing we know we will encounter every time we change direction in life—resistance.

3 Things to Do When You Feel Alone

Discover How Jesus Beat Loneliness—and You Can Too!

Ever feel alone? Jesus did, too. That’s right. Messiah. Creator. Savior of the world. Even he dealt with loneliness. After all, one of the reasons he became one of us was to understand what we go through each day on this terrestrial ball. But unlike us, Jesus refused to give in to the temptation to fixate on that feeling.

lonely

How did he beat it? Jesus beat loneliness by speaking the truth to himself.

It matters greatly how we talk to ourselves. Let’s face it, we are the one person we can never get away form—no matter how hard we might try at times. So what we say to ourselves is critical when we are tempted to feel alone.

It happened at least once to Jesus, most noticeably as he gave his disciples a final briefing just prior to his crucifixion.

Episode 20: How to Pursue Your Authentic Life Direction

5 Steps to Take When You Step Out by Faith

So you think God may be calling you to step out in a new life direction? That’s great! Now what?

Episode 006 (16)

If you are reading this in email, click here to listen at FaithWalkers online now

Episode 20 unpacks 5 proven steps I have found for pursuing a new life direction. I share a lot of my own story as examples, but your journey will be unique to you.

Episode 19: How to Hear God in the Ordinary and Live What We Hear

An Interview with Keith R. Anderson, Author of A Spirituality of Listening

How careful are you to listen in to what God is saying to you in the ordinary of life? The good news is that God is speaking all the time. The bad news is we often don’t take time to listen.

Episode 006 (15)

If you are reading this in email, listen online at FaithWalkers now.

Episode 19 is a real treat—an interview with author Keith R. Anderson about his new book A Spirituality of Listening: Live What We Hear.

How to Pursue Your Authentic Life Adventure

7 Steps to Take When Stepping Out in a New Life Direction

So you want to step out in a new life direction. But you’re afraid. That’s normal. Fear often keeps us from moving forward. What if I showed you the steps needed to move forward with clarity, confidence, and abundant faith to live an authentic life adventure?

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 10.11.13 AM

First let me acknowledge that I did not follow all of the steps I am about to share with you—not intentionally anyway. Some I had to learn the hard way.

How to Find Your Authentic Life Direction

5 Suggestions For Clarity & Confidence in a New Life Direction

Do you know where you are headed next in life? Do you know where you should be headed next? If you’re like a lot of us, you may have accidentally fallen into a life direction instead of intentionally choosing your best path.

Meme-TalkingVSLiving

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t be that way.

God created each one of us with unique strengths, passions, and skills sets. He gave us each unique relationship connections that open doors of opportunity unavailable to others.

And He expects us to use it all to more fully reveal His majesty on earth as it is in heaven.

Will Your Story Matter Where and When It Matters Most?

The Greatest Prize You Receive in Eternity May Be the Story You Are Living Right Now

Because of our natural human fixation on “the seen,” we tend to think only of the impact of our story in this brief season of our existence: the here and now.

faith must write our entire story -or

Although that impact is not unimportant, as immortal beings we should be far more concerned with how our story will sound when it is told there and then, in that next season of existence that will extend through all eternity.