As a Christian, doesn't it always seems counterintuitive to say "no" to requests from our brothers and sisters? Because from our perspective, Christ hardly ever said "no" during His earthly ministry to people, did he?
I'm not a scriptural scholar, so I can't recall Christ turning down too many people. But I do know He was very purposeful with his time. His actions, even during "down time" always led to helping another. Because we only have a few chapters of His life recorded - and it stands to reason that each writer combed through hundreds and thousands of memories to get to what was canonized - we simply do not have a deep glimpse of when He likely did say "no" and made conscious decisions to do something else. He only lived thirty-three years in mortal form, and per the custom as I understand it, by law was only able to begin His earthly ministry when He was 30.
To pack everything he needed to into three years, He would have daily needed to say "no" so that he could say "yes" to a myriad of decisions I would have to imagine.
I particularly see this in my own congregation - particularly as a teenager when my mother was put in charge of the women's group. She rarely said no and there were a select group of people who took advantage of this (in my opinion) to the point where my mom broke down under the pressure and was of little use to anyone for some time. This experience had me swing my pendulum a bit too far the other way where I was very selfish with my time for a while.
But now I'm more balanced, and I feel I understand the gospel with greater maturity. My main goal is to ensure my salvation, then the salvation of my family. When those basic needs are met, my extended family and those I work and deal with daily come next, and then those in my congregation.
I've spent much time understanding Covey's definition and distinction between a circle of influence and a circle of concern. I can be worried about starving children in Africa, but aside from donating money or moving there, I am not going to be able to move the needle on that one much. I am extremely impressed with Jared (Miller) Angaza for his work - he certainly made this circle of concern a circle of massive influence for his family.
But for me, my calling is to see my five children successfully launch with a strong foundation of who they are and the purpose of life. I also am assigned to our local Scout Troop so I work with those boys two days a week and occasional outings, taking my son along with me. On Sundays, I help with a Sunday School class of the same age of boys.
At work, I am working towards creating career pathways for 450+ global staff with my own personal mission to create great future leaders who will affect great change in the four corners of the world. I have a lot of work to do there, but it is an inspiring vision and one which is worthwhile.
When I enter the doorway at night, I am CEO of Wife Happiness which pays great dividends. Family Happiness seems to follow in close pursuit.
When I look at my calendar each week with all of the above filled in, there are small pockets of time left for exercise, volunteer leadership with a local association, and a few social events.
To get my life this structured, I have to make many decisions on what not to do, however.
What have you said "no" to recently and what needs to be on top of the "stop doing" list?
I was inspired to write on this topic by the President of PayPal's article online. I have been impressed by the senior leadership of eBay Inc.
Family and civic responsibilities are all very important to them - and work could completely consume them. But they have their priorities in order, which easily allows them to say "yes" to what is important, and say "no" or "not now" to all the worthy - and not so worthy - requests on their time.