When I first started serving in ministry I had the worst time saying “no.” I would justify cramming one more thing into my already overflowing calendar by saying to myself,
“I love helping with (activity/ministry) and they really do need help. I think it’ll be fine.”
It was especially difficult to decline when the person asking was someone I really liked and respected. They legitimately needed help and I had the talents and skills to help them.
Unfortunately, I’d do a mediocre job, or a great job at the expense of something else falling through the cracks. Plus, I would be so burned out by the end of the season or event, I would feel as though I desperately needed to take an extended sabbatical somewhere really, really far away.
It would leave me wondering, “Why is this always so hard?”
Although I’m now much better at recognizing when I need to say “no,” I still need help sometimes.
A couple of months ago I was really struggling with the fact that my calendar was, once again, too full. I was pretty sure God was asking me to cut a particular ministry out of my week, but it was scary to walk away from something that I loved doing.
I wrote up an email that I intended on sending to the leader of that ministry, but stored it as a draft instead.
For weeks, I went back and forth on whether I should send it or not.
God always has a way of getting through to me in the most surprising ways.
One day, I was making my way through groups of people leaving after a church service. A woman approached me, saying she had had a very strange dream about me and felt God was leading her to give me a message. Her dream was basically me with very long hair.
(Side note: anyone who knows me, would say that is not strange at all because I do have very long hair.)
However, she said God told her I was being held down by the extra weight of my hair. God told her that even though I cherished my lovely mane, I needed to cut it off in order to continue pursuing what God has planned for me. She told me it was symbolic for something I needed to cut out of my life.
Instantly, God’s Spirit convicted me about sending that email.
I knew exactly what the dream meant. This ministry I had joyfully served in, at several churches over the years, was holding me back from where God was doing something new in my life.
1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1
It would not be a forever goodbye, but a goodbye for now.
Whether activities or work, in or outside of the church, here are 4 truths I apply to my calendar each year to prevent me from veering off of God’s will for my life.
God will never call me to busyness. He will only call me to obedience.
Just because I possess the skills or talents to do something, doesn’t mean it’s what God is asking me to do right now. This doesn’t mean I won’t be busy, but I shouldn’t be consistently overwhelmed to the point where I’m developing anxiety or burn out because of too many activities on my calendar.
God will never ask me to do a thousand things for His glory.
There are only so many hours in a day and I’m only one person. God doesn’t call me to do a thousand mediocre things while I stress out and burn out. He calls me to do a few things “with all of my heart,” in excellence. Read Colossians 3:23-24 here.
What may make sense to me, may not be what He was planned.
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 22:8
Like in my example above, just because it made sense for me to continue serving in that particular ministry, didn’t mean God agreed. I didn’t understand His reason or plan until after I said “goodbye” in obedience.
Marginalizing God out of my life means my priorities are upside down.
Do you know what the worst part was about not saying “no” when I needed to? I was beginning to schedule God right out of my day and leaving zero room for Holy Spirit encounters or unexpected “divine appointments” to be His hands and feet. Read about one of experiences here!
For me, I may have my schedule full of wonderful and productive ministry time. But, I have to remind myself why I am doing all of this to begin with.
Ministry work, no matter how productive or enjoyable, is not about me.
It’s about being used by God for His purposes.
Ultimately, He knows what’s best for me, so I need to stop getting in the way of that.