Life comes at us fast. We want to be effective in our ministries, but sometimes helping and leading morphs into a mania of doing that piles so much on us that we forget who we are, and how we are called to live differently. As women, we put pressure on ourselves to succeed, to live faster and faster until the rat race swallows us up. And as we get sucked into doing more, the word “no” becomes almost a curse word. To be known as someone who says “no” could limit our chances for advancement or for greater responsibilities, or so we’re told; but learning to say “no” is important if we are truly to shine in the areas God has gifted and equipped us to lead. We know we need to say “no” more, and we know the reasons, but in our daily scramble, we forget.
Not sure if you need to learn to say “no” more? Here are eight signs:
1. You aren’t quite sure how you ended up with four email accounts that you monitor daily, but somehow you’ve landed here and now you have to switch back and forth. The strain it gives your eyes has definitely been the reason you have to get a new eyeglass prescription yearly.
2. You’ve heard the latest on how multi-tasking was a myth perpetuated by some [insert devious agenda by foes real and imagined] to keep us spinning in our hamster wheels. Now you have to come to terms with the fact that in your season of life, each “yes” means a “no” to something else.
Actually, that was true all along, but you are just now really contending with it. In your 20s, there was always the prospect of sleep later. Back then, there was a friend to hang out with and that paper to procrastinate on. But now you have a five-year-old daughter, a husband who travels a few days each week, a needy dog, a whiny cat who hasn’t decided if she hates or loves you, and three ministry jobs that end up totaling way over the goal of 40 hours per week.
“No” should be a much used word in your vocabulary. But “no” is uncomfortable.
3. Your grandfather had several heart attacks and your grandmother suffered from daily minor strokes during her last six months. The doctors shrugged when they’d offered both diagnoses and said it was probably stress-related. You don’t want to be next.
4. You haven’t had a full day to yourself since that first morning you took the pregnancy test. It’s been womb-full, arms-full, or email-full ever since. A whole day’s break at the library or beach or even to sit in a car alone feels impossible. Don’t even think about a day at an art museum, like when you were young and [reasonably] wild.