Examining one’s life for any length of time (in one sitting) is either a luxury reserved for vacation or the result of something gone wrong (more likely). One reason to go through this exercise is to make sure that you are spending your time on the best things instead of a collection of good things.
Being part of a large and vibrant church, opportunities to get involved are in great abundance because God is doing a ton of amazing things in the lives of His people. I’m glad the resources and organization are available for me to “plug in” and contribute. But there is a hidden trap there too. Let me explain.
Exclude church for a minute (you may anyway), life is full of causes, entertainment and obligations that eat our time…if we let them. We can look up one day and wonder where the week, month or even year went. These are good things; worthy things to give our time to, but are the best things for me – based on how God made me?
Add church back in and it becomes quite clear that getting an overcrowded schedule is EASY…as easy as saying “Yes.” YES is fun and rewarding and appreciated…until the YES becomes a “how am I going to get it all done?” Then it becomes something different altogether. Guilt and disappointment start to reign in our minds when we can’t meet the obligations we so eagerly signed up for – fun becomes un-fun, un-rewarding and resented.
Want fun and fulfillment to mark your life again? The answer is simple, but the implementation is hard. It is found in just two letters: N, O. I know what you’re thinking. NO isn’t fun – it’s harsh and offensive and divisive…anything but fun. And you’re right. For whatever reason, we are wired to resist saying NO to people and “good” things until we are reminded of the awful feeling of having too much task and not enough daylight.
Saying NO is the precursor to being able to say YES to the right things – the BEST things. It is also the best way to create pockets of time in your schedule that you can turn over to God and let Him have a say.
So, here’s the challenge: of all of the things you do and all of the obligations you have each week, what are the most valuable…not most important or hardest to do without or even hardest to get out of. Put everything on the table – nothing is safe. As that list is formed – ask yourself why you think those things are the most valuable. Develop an answer for all of them.
As you mull that over, think about your values. If you have a family, what are your family values. Here are a few areas to consider:
- Financial: what is your belief about debt? savings? giving?
- Spiritual: do you go to church? why do you go to church? why not? Do you value God’s Word as an integral part of how you live?
- Marriage: how permanent is your marriage? How do you want to honor your mate?
- Family: what character traits to you want to focus on in your children? What are the “non-negotiables” in your home? How many nights a week are we going to eat at the dinner table together?
- Relationships: how close do you want to be with your parents? your siblings? your children? your neighbors? your best friend?
Now marry the two lists together. Do the reasons you have for how you spend your time match the values you say you believe? If not, perhaps adjustments in the former list need to be made. You see, values don’t change – they are the core of who we are and are immune to our circumstance. Therefore, they should be the starting place once you start to say YES again after a time of saying NO.
Add back into your life the BEST things based on your personal and family values. Resist the temptation to deviate. Because in the end, it is your responsibility to use the time you have and make the most of it.
The Skit Guys have a video talking about this very process that may help bring some clarity.
YouTube Direct-What is God's Will