When we train disciples to fulfill the Great Commission, we train them to say yes.
Yes to serving.
Yes to going.
Yes to doing.
But sometimes being missional also means saying no.
No to too many good projects.
No to serving in worthy areas that you aren't gifted for.
No to keeping your same service schedule during a difficult season.
In my own life, I've discovered three ways that I can live on mission and still say no:
1. When you're already over committed
In a large church, saying no without guilt is a lot easier. In a small church, saying no can be trickier, but it's an important lesson I'm learning nonetheless.
When we over-commit ourselves, we can easily become overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done…now. The result? Being overwhelmed can lead to discouragement.
When you feel over-committed, prayerfully consider your priorities, which leads me to No. 2.
2. When you're operating outside your gifts
Look around any church and you'll see dozens of great projects and ministries you could jump into. Most of them are worthy and needed.
When we over-extend ourselves by signing up for every need that presents itself, chances are we are operating outside of our Spirit-enabled areas of service.
The result? Operating outside the Spirit's giftings means we are not as effective as he has intended us to be. It also could mean we are taking the place of someone who truly is gifted for that place of service.
When you are operating outside your gifts, prayerfully consider the ministry passions God has given you and open your eyes to areas of service requiring that gift.
3. When you're walking in a challenging season
God not only calls us to fulfill the Great Commission, he equips us to do so. But the intensity and consistency with which we live out our callings can change depending on our season of life. When we're walking in a challenging season, sometimes calling and gifts must be put on hold temporarily.
Our bodies and spirits often inform us of when we need to take a break. We do well to heed those messages of rest particularly during difficult seasons. The result of ignoring those messages? Frustration and burnout.
If you have found yourself in one of these areas and you're still saying ‘yes’ to every good project that pops up, I'd like to caution you. You could have positioned yourself exactly where Satan wants you. Discouraged, ineffective, and burned out on Great Commission activities.
So, how do you keep yourself from getting to this point? The answer is not as simple as saying no, although that might be one solution.
The answer is to look at why you're saying yes all the time.
In my own life, I discover (often too late) that I over-commit myself, volunteer for areas outside my gifting, and continue to serve even when I'm trying to stay afloat in a storm for one single reason: I've stopped abiding in Jesus.
When I abide in Christ, I am more attuned to his Spirit, and allow the Spirit to guide my yes's and no's.
My no's come at the Spirit's bidding and for no other reason - not pride (no one else can do this like me!), not laziness (why is no one else signing up?), not fear (what if no one else signs up?), or any other excuse for serving or not serving.
The same is probably true for you, too.
When we abide in Christ, we become so impassioned to use our special giftings in specific ways that we can say no to other service opportunities without guilt. Our no's are tempered by the yes's that the Spirit is leading us to embark upon with his power.
When we abide in Christ, he becomes the strength for our service to the gospel. Sometimes that means his calling will change for a season depending on what he's strengthening us for - what difficulties surround us at the moment. Saying no, frees us up to rest in him for a time so that when that season passes we will be even stronger in our future service.
I want to my model missional living to my children, and one of the biggest lessons I've learned as a parent is saying no can be just as missional as saying yes.
In the end, I want my children to see a mother whose no is just as Spirit-led as her yes. Now, how to actually say the word no is a completely different post.
Melissa’s motto as a Christian journalist and creative writer is to “tell of God’s marvelous works” (Ps. 9:1). And with almost 15 years experience in print and editorial services, God has embedded Melissa with passions gleaned from stories and experiences from the field. But helping women fall in love with the sweetness of God’s Word truly makes her heart sing. Two years ago, she launched HiveResources.com to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, missions resources, and more. She recently published a 10-week Bible study, Daughters of the King, to help women find their place in the biblical story. Melissa has a M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University. She and her husband, Jonathan, are currently part of a church plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They have five-year-old twin boys, Zacharias and Jonah, who are unwittingly and joyfully shaping them into the image of Christ.
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