Maybe it’s become a bit cliche for Christians to discuss busyness – it certainly has become one of the most widely talked about issues in discipleship circles. Everyone seems to have a problem with having over-scheduled, under-Spirit-led lives, and yet despite all of the conversation, it seems that few changes have been made in most people’s lives to address the issue.
The majority of this article was written from a hotel in Atlanta, where we evacuated with our toddler before Hurricane Irma arrived over the entirety of Florida. It wasn’t the most restful experience because our regular routine and pace of life was dramatically disrupted. It also gave us quite a bit to think about in regards to busyness and routine!
An awareness that it is a problem to be over-scheduled in our routines is a problem – but we have to have solutions to the problem. There have to be ways to deal with this issue, or otherwise we’re not really do anything except acknowledging our problems and doing nothing about it.
We often become over-busy when we find our time being taken up by too many tasks and obligations. I’m going to present an idea in this article that I think is central to learning how to say no to extra requests – and it’s the realization that you may not be the best person to take on every task. There are other aspects of “saying no” that I’d like to address, but for this article, we’ll just focus on saying no to things you aren’t best equipped to do, and instead focus your energies on what you do best.
SAY NO TO THINGS YOU AREN’T BEST EQUIPPED TO DO
Are you asked to do a lot? Perhaps you’re approached to take on extra shifts at work, serve on committees at church, attend another three-day training seminar in another city, help family with their personal projects, enroll your kid in yet another sport. It could be anything – the point is, the number of options you could invest your time into are limitless as time itself.
But you don’t have all of the time in the world, nor the energy.
THERE MUST BE LIMITS. THERE MUST BE A NO SOMEWHERE.
Being asked to do extra isn’t a bad thing – it means that you’re valuable and people want your help and all the good qualities that you bring! But you have to face the reality somewhere that you aren’t the best at everything, you aren’t always the right person for a given task.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul discusses a wide range of spiritual gifts, something he also explores in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. In this discussion of gifts, Paul makes clear that not everyone is designed for every job. In fact, in 1 Cor. 29-30, he begins asking rhetorical questions of the reader, asking them if they are good at everything:
“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?”
Paul’s point here in 1 Cor. 12 is that we can’t be good at everything, and instead, we all are part of a larger body that is designed to function together as separate parts. We’re all parts of a larger body – the Body of Christ. You can’t be good at everything, nor should you be doing everything.
For example, looking down at the floor I can see one of my son’s baby toys, a little plastic letter G, laying on the floor that will need picked up by the end of the night. Now, I can pick that toy up with my foot, since I’m barefoot, and actually, my foot is even closer to the toy than my hand. But unless you’re exceptionally talented at moving things with your feet, it’s much more efficient to bend over and pick the toy up with my hands and put it in the right place than to try to use my feet. Hands are made for picking up baby toys, and even though I COULD do it with my feet, that doesn’t mean that I should, because it is an inefficient waste of time.
In our lives, we are often asked to add elements to our routine that we’re not best equipped to do, and we need to develop a keen sense of what we can contribute efficiently and what we cannot.
WHERE ARE THE PLACES WHERE YOU’RE INEFFICIENTLY USING YOUR TIME?
Start by saying no to those things – and as I laid out above, there is a profound biblical basis for recognizing that your gifting is different from others! You shouldn’t be doing everything – do what you do best.
Does your daughter want to join the basketball team with her friends? Instead of taking her to and picking her up from every practice, perhaps you should work out a car pooling schedule with her friends family. Save your time for attending games.
Asked to take on an extra shift for a project at work you’re unfamiliar with? Why not direct that to someone else best suited to the job (if you can). Offer to help with points in the project that are best suited for your skills
Approached by the pastor to head up a ministry committee at your church that you don’t feel a strong passion for? Offer to help the pastor make a connection with someone with a stronger calling to that kind of work.
As you can see, you don’t always have to completely deny requests of you – but don’t allow yourself to be swamped with busyness that strangles time and space for relationship with God.
Instead, learn to view your time as a precious commodity – and it is true. Nobody, no matter how wealthy, can buy more time. Spend your time wisely, and know that God recognizes that you aren’t equipped for everything, and that’s why there are other people who are there to come alongside with their special skills, gifting and passion.
I hope that these thoughts help you to cultivate better thinking about saying no, and is something that you can begin assessing immediately.
In the next article in this series, we’ll continue to examine strategies for creating space in our lives for God, but in the mean time, I sincerely hope you’ll evaluate the value of your time and your unique equipping to serve God and others with the gifts that you have been given.