My heart was racing as I stepped up to the pitcher’s mound. I knew I was no good at pitching, but mychurch’s softball team was in a quandary. Our pitcher and our back up pitcher were both out of town and we needed someone to step up. I knew I stunk at pitching, but I thought, “Well, nobody else will do it, so I will!”
Famous last words.
I began the inning by walking the first few ladies. Not bad. At least nobody hit a homerun. When the bases were loaded with walkers, I began to get really nervous. I mean, even more nervous than I already was at this point. The more I failed, the worse I got!
Nothing prepared me for what happened next. I let go of the pitch and when I watched the home plate to see where it would go, I couldn’t find it anywhere. That’s when I heard the laughter roaring from both teams and even the people in the stands watching. I was confused. I felt my face flushing and my embarrassment quickly faded and turned to belly laughing when I realized I had thrown a pitch – to second base! It had literally gone over my head and behind me.
Oh my word. Story of my life!
I tell you this not to embarrass myself (all over again) but to show you a very vivid picture of whathappens when I jump in and volunteer to do something because “nobody else will do it.” Can you relate? Perhaps you’re the one who feels bad because ministry opportunities go untaken. People are un-served. Things are not being done. And you think that because you’re “available” you should step in and save the day, no matter what the cost.
How’s that working out for you?
My guess is that you’re tired, exhausted, perhaps even frustrated and even bitter towards others because they wouldn’t “step up”. Self righteousness may be creeping in.
How do I know this? Only because I’ve lived it. I’ve been the one to do this for a long time. My mom even bought me a coffee mug once that said, “Note to self: Stop Volunteering for Stuff.”
As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that I really do need to stop burning myself out. I need to ask myself a few questions before I commit to doing something that I feel needs to be done:
- Is this something I feel God is calling me to do?
- Will this commitment take me away from my top priorities?
- Is there someone else who could be doing this?
- What is my motive for doing this? Is it so I won’t disappoint the person asking or is it because I feel it is truly a place where I can serve joyfully and keep my other commitments?
- Have I given myself time to pray and seek wise counsel on this decision? Or do I feel rushed to make a quick decision?
My mentor once told me that if I say yes to everything, I end up burning myself out and honestly, I could be stealing an opportunity from someone who is truly gifted and called to do the work. I’ve always remembered that. Sometimes the things I say "yes" to end up being a distraction that takes me far off the path God truly intended me to take.
Please hear my heart here. I’m not telling you to say no to every opportunity and I’m definitely not saying that God cannot equip you to do something He’s clearly called you to do, even if you are not naturally gifted at it. Prayer, wise counsel and time are all essential in making the right decision. But look at your true motive before you say "yes".
To be completely honest, I've since realized that the root of my decision to say "yes" to everything was my fear of hurting or disappointing people. I’ve realized that comes from a place of fear. My fear is that others will reject me. But saying "yes" out of fear of rejection is really a selfish motive for being kind. In other words, I was being kind in order to gain favor and acceptance from someone and that showed a need for boundaries in my life. Fear of a person's disapproval can lead to codependency, which happens when we depend on another person's approval and acceptance for our happiness. It's a form of idolatry! But oh, how selfless and sweet it looks on the outside!
In my desire to be "needed" I was not faithful to what God had actually called me to do. And let's be honest - does God really need me? He's God! He is holy, almighty, self-sufficient and perfect! He's invited me to be a small part of His work, but He certainly doesn't need me. I'm not going to ruin His plans. He's God!
I have learned over the past few years that saying “no, thank you” has not hurt me in the least. Actually, it’s really helped me establish boundaries and it’s given me time and energy to do the things God is actually asking me to do! And not one person I’ve had to say “no” to has rejected me. I actually believe they respect my honesty and desire to be a woman of my word. You can be nice and say no at the same time! (smile)
You will find your fears of rejection and disappointments are more than likely unfounded, too. You can take control of your life – one decision at a time. Trust me, God knows what needs to be done and He has the perfect person for each role. We can trust Him to complete what He starts, with or without us!
In looking back, perhaps there was actually a woman on my softball team who had a gift of pitching and she didn't even know it? But I said "yes" so quickly, she never even had a chance to try.