Learning to say "no" is quite the challenge. For me, I supposed this inability to say that little word comes from some sort of pride...to think someone needs me. If I don't come through no one will. And besides, no one will do it as well.
How egocentric is that?!
Reality is much different than the thoughts that run through my mind.
In reality, I'm just one person.
In reality, many people can do what I do just as well.
In reality, life should not be about hopping from one task to the other.
In reality, life should not be about doing everything for everybody else and wasting the calling God has on my life because I'm too tired or too spent.
In reality, "no" is not a dirty word. (It doesn't even have four letters.) "No" is just a word. It brings balance into our lives. It brings rest to our minds. It frees other people to do what they're called to do.
I think my pastor, Mike Buie, said it best. "Sometimes we have to say 'no' to good opportunities so we can say 'yes' to God opportunities."
Truthfully, for me, this is very difficult. I want to change the world so much more than I have and experience so much more of life than I have and be so much more than I am, but reality has to rule here. If I'm so busy with good opportunities, more than likely I'm going to miss the God opportunities that are passing right in front of my eyes.
Leonard Ravenhill once said, "The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of that opportunity." That's the thing...opportunities will pass right in front of our eyes. They can slip through our fingers. We can run right past them with every intention to return. But when they are gone, they're gone.
In the past, I've missed opportunities. I've missed some because I was scared to jump. I've missed some because I was trying to be submissive. I've missed some because I was just flat out lazy. I've missed some--many--because I was too busy to recognize those opportunities as defining moments.
I've written about this truth before, but let me just remind you of Paul's words in a few of his epistles.
Ephesians 5:15, 16
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Make the best use of your time. Make the best use of your God opportunities. Say "no" to good opportunities so you can say "yes" to God opportunities.
This next year, 2015, I'm not making a resolution. I'm working to adopt a word. Purge. Purge the things in my life that clutter my attention. Purge things that distract me from God's purpose for my life. Purge so I can make the most of every opportunity.