Friday, November 24, 2006

Saying Yes and No

In a fascinating article Walter Shurden writes:

“I believe that “saying yes and saying no,” is an important spiritual discipline.

Michelle McClendon speaks for many of us when she writes, “One of the spiritual practices that I struggle most with is that of saying yes and saying no." Chew on that line. Surely Michelle put us in touch with something that matters. “Saying yes and saying no” is a spiritual practice of enormous proportions, carrying with it huge implications.

“Saying yes and saying no” is an important spiritual practice as we look at our schedules.

Scheduling is what Michelle was talking about in her email to me, because I had very reluctantly told her no about a speaking engagement. My time, as well as my money, is, of course, a critical issue of stewardship. Deciding which invitations to accept and when to accept them and why—that is a spiritual decision. What responsibilities to take on at church, school, work and in the community is at bottom a spiritual decision that impacts not only me but my family, my colleagues, and my work for God’s kingdom.

John Carleton once said, “All of my invitations come to me in my manic state of mind, and they come due in my depressed state.” Who has not felt that way?

Some of us, burdened with messianism, say yes far too often and far too quickly. Saying yes is often rooted in a distorted need to be needed. Yes can spoil as well as enrich. Some of us overlive. On the other hand, some of us, blighted by a negative view of self, say no far too often, far too quickly, and far too fearfully. Saying no is often rooted in a fear of risking. Some of us underlive. I am confident that some of my yeses should be noes, some of my noes, yeses.

Further discussion by Walter Shurden on this subject can be found at:

Image: Walter Shurden