First off, if you missed it, please take a minute and read yesterday's post.
... So, you want to get off the Merry-Go-Round? You want to escape the insanity? You want to turn in your blue tights with the big "S" on the front and occasionally get some time to invest in the things that matter the most?
Here's a little secret. Just between us. You can.
I'm going to introduce you to a powerful tool that will help you have more time to do the really important things like having dinner with your spouse or cheering at your kids' games.
Everywhere you turn, someone wants -- NEEDS -- you to do something. You must learn the answer that will set you free.
Here it is. "No."
Practice saying it. "No."
Listen to the sound of your voice. "No."
Try to say it with gentle authority. "No."
You don't have to yell or scream. You don't need steam shooting out your ears. Consider the following...
Many years ago a pastor friend was teaching me from one of his life lessons. At the time, he pastored one of the largest churches in the country. He told me how, in his busy schedule, it was hard for him to meet people he could talk to about Christ. Therefore, he made himself available to a local mortuary to preach funerals for families who had no church or pastor. He told the Funeral Director that he could call on a moment's notice and the pastor would change his schedule to perform the funeral.
About then, his older son was playing Pop Warner Football. The boy's coach called the pastor, who had played college football, and asked him to help out as assistant coach. The pastor politely explained that he was so busy he just couldn't do it.
As he hung up his phone, he looked up from his desk to see his secretary standing in the doorway. She was old enough to be his mother and she had a "no nonsense" way of talking to him. "You have time to do anything you please," she said. Then she turned and walked out. He knew she was right.
He picked up the phone, called the coach back. "I've changed my mind," he said. "When's your next practice?" As soon as he ended that call, he called the Funeral Director. "I'm sorry, but I am changing my schedule. Please don't schedule me again without checking first to see if I have time."
In a simple, gentle, authoritative way, he said, "No."
Gordon MacDonald is a pastor and author whose writings mean much to me. I learned something from him that set me free: "I have another commitment." He goes on to explain that "another commitment" might mean time with my kids or my wife. It might mean time for rest on a Saturday before a "crazy busy" Sunday.
Those four words have helped me stay in the race, doing what I do. Sometimes I am asked by one of life's sprinters why I don't cram more into every day? My answer is that life -- and I think ministry -- is a marathon. Don't get me wrong. I have plenty to do and I stay pretty busy. The difference is that I mostly work on those things that I think make a huge difference in the long run. And I constantly reevaluate, making adjustments as needed.
I discovered long ago that lots of people have great plans for how I can use my time. That's why I must establish priorities and set my schedule first. Then I change it as necessary.
It's not perfect. But I'm not as dizzy as I once was!