Fear of missing out on something bigger led me to say “yes” to good things but kept me from doing the best thing. When I said yes to the good, I missed the chance to do the best things God has for me. Have you ever felt that way? Made choices that just were not the best use of your time, gifts, and resources? You went for the big (or more interesting, more fun, more exciting) thing instead of the best thing. You said yes because it was a good thing, like volunteering to bake cookies or attend a Bible Study, or you can fill in the blank. It seemed like the right thing to do only later you discover you didn’t have what you needed to meet the “yes” you made? How can we get back to the best things and say, not right now, to everything else?
I said yes to the job I thought I dreamed about and traded peace for stress.
I scrolled too long through social media, and I didn’t make that call to my sister, who needed encouragement.
I indulged in my favorite food, and now I feel like a failure at self-control.
These are examples of choices we make that take us away from the best things, the things God calls us to do with our time and gifts.
Earlier this year, when the pandemic spread across the planet, I was happily balancing my writing and part-time teaching at the local community college. It was great. I was spending my time, gifts, and resources, doing what God had gifted me to do. However, by March, colleges everywhere moved to online courses, and many needed teachers with online instruction experience and training. Who knew that a specialized degree would come in handy someday? By April, two other colleges asked me to teach writing online. How exciting.
“Yes,” I replied enthusiastically, “I would love to teach two courses.”
“What, you need me to teach two courses at your college, too.”
“Of course, I’ll teach one more course of freshman writing.”
My teaching skills (ha!) were in demand. In August, I began the semester teaching five classes at three colleges in three cities. Whew! What was I thinking? I was probably thinking, “Hey, look at me. I can do everything.”
Now, for full-time teachers, that may be no problem. If you are a full-time teacher, you are a rock star, and five classes would be no big deal, and for a time, I believed the same for myself. It did not take long for me to see just how wrong I was.
How did I get off the path?
At first, I just put off doing today what I could do tomorrow.
I gave up my quiet time and my writing time. The things that God called me to do, the best things disappeared from my schedule. Days would pass without the sound of the pages of my Bible turning. For weeks, months, I have not written. Maybe you have noticed this is my first blog in nearly two months. I apologize. I would rather be doing this than almost anything.
Then, I noticed that my house and yard were looking pretty shabby. Unfinished yard projects and laundry piled high on the kitchen table left me fighting the whispers of failure from the enemy. Nothing better than a messy sink of dirty dishes to convince me that I am not doing things right. Most mornings, I woke already dreading the day—all this over saying yes.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6
What has God called you to be your best thing?
Maybe you are led to encourage others. Or, you may be gifted to lead or teach others. No call is too small in God’s economy. Whatever it is, it is important. It is the best thing to say “yes” to.
There are some things we are all commanded to do. Matthew 22:37-39 gives us the greatest commandments: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ This is non-negotiable. Other choices require wisdom to decide whether to say yes or maybe later. Here are some questions you may need to ask before saying yes.
Will this distract from what God has called me to do?
For me, the yes to teaching multiple classes consumed every extra moment. I found myself spending hours (yes, hours) reading student work, writing and returning emails, making lesson plans, and finding missing students who forgot deadlines and assignments. Any time for writing was used on classwork. I love teaching writing, I love interacting with the students, but I was miserable very quickly. I was distracted from the best thing. The balance was gone. If saying yes will take you away from the important things God gives us, then the answer should be, maybe later.
Do I have what this “yes” requires of me?
Time is the one resource we can never replenish. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I have to ask if I have the time to invest. Or, energy; do I have the energy reserves to take on another “yes?” Sometimes the best “yes” is, “I don’t have that to give right now.” It doesn’t mean I don’t love you or want to do what you ask; it’s just that I don’t have that resource to spare at the moment. Maybe another time. If I say yes, when I don’t have the resources physically, mentally, and emotionally to finish, I will end up tired and bitter. Who wants that?
Will this honor God or me?
Regretfully and in transparency, I believe my “yes” to teaching five classes was all about me. Yep, me. It was not about filling a gap or bringing honor to God or the gifts, dreams, and desires He lavishes upon me. It was about me teaching five courses. I still love saying it. I sound so important, which is so far from reality. In the future, if I say yes to anything, I want it to bring glory and honor to God and point to Jesus. Proverbs 3 says, In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Does teaching five classes at three colleges do that? No. Does doing what God wants me to bring Him honor? Yes.
It’s never too late.
Is it too late when we say yes to the other stuff and miss the best stuff? Not at all.
I have one word for you–grace.
Even when we say yes because we fear missing out on something bigger or because it highlights our abilities, or we don’t know how to say no, there is grace. If you commit to something important but find you don’t have the resources of time and energy to fulfill the obligation, can you change your mind? Yes, grace gives you the humility and wisdom to say, “I’m sorry, but I found I don’t have the resources to finish this task. Maybe next time.”
In my case, grace meant the courage to say I must step away from teaching five courses. With more prayer and God prying my hands open, it may mean no teaching. God and I continue to wrestle that one out. My prayer is to be obedient to His guidance and trust Him.
I want to get back to the best thing God has for me. I’ve missed writing every day and interacting with readers. I miss the emails and comments from you. I miss the satisfaction that comes from doing what God gifted and called me to do. Writing the first word of this post energized me. My heart was so full, I had to stop and give thanks. Thank you, Jesus, for opening my eyes to the best things and giving me the grace I need to say, not now, maybe later. I trust you to make my path straight.
When asked to do something, how do you decide yes or no? How do you know if it’s a good thing or the best thing?
What do you do when you realize that you may be over-committed and overwhelmed?
Where do you need God’s grace the most today to do the best thing?
Please leave a comment and let’s start a conversation. Thank you for reading.
Thanks to Biblegateway.com for scripture links and information.