The Power of No
I was sitting in church this past Sunday and before the service even started God dropped a couple things in my heart that I quickly jotted down in the notes on my phone. It turns out the things I jotted down went hand in hand with part of the sermon our pastor preached that very morning. That's enough confirmation for me to know I need to share.
So wanna know what I put in my little notepad Sunday morning?
Here it is...
I think one of the best things we can teach our children (and maybe ourselves) is how to rest.
Now hear me, I didn't say it was the best thing, but one of the best things. There are a lot of things I want to teach my children. I want them to know Jesus loves them. I want them to know how to love Jesus and love others. I want them to learn to follow Jesus instead of politely asking Jesus to follow them. I want them to learn kindness, and boldness and wisdom and discernment. I want them to learn to do all things with excellence as unto the Lord.
But rest is important. Its so important that God is our example of it. In Genesis, when He was done with creation, He rested. And he didn't just rest but he commanded us to rest. Literally its one of the commandments.
Genesis 2:2-3 ESV
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
But I don't think this is just about taking Sunday's off. That is good. But that's not the whole of rest. This goes beyond a day off. We have work to do, we have a purpose to fulfill for the Kingdom. But we also have to set aside time to rest and refuel. We need to refuel our bodies, minds and spirits in order to be most effective in that purpose. (You can find all kinds of scripture on the topic of getting rest here.)
So what does that have to do with my kids? Well, we live in a culture that doesn't rest. We work overtime and skip vacations and power through when we are sick and schedule our days away. Sometimes this can't be helped. Some seasons we are busier than others. But sometimes we just don't say no. Saying yes to too many things leads to stress and faitgue we could have saved ourselves and our kids from.
Sometimes we need to say no. We need to say no to going into work on what was supposed to be a day off. We need to say no to that weekend social event and just enjoy our kids in our own home. We need to power off the smart phones and let the world wait while we eat dinner together as a family. We need to not let our kids do absolutely everything they want to do.
We can teach our kids to do all things with excellence without them having to do all things. There is power in saying no.
Why don't we say no. Is it because we are afraid of what others might think? Is it because we are worried someone else might look better than us? Is it because we have a need to be the best, for our kids to be the best? I don't know your why. I know you need to know it and you need to examine it in the light of eternity and decide if it is worth the time and energy you are giving to it. We give lots of time and energy to things that aren't bad things but they aren't the right things. And then, when we get exhausted and stressed out we wonder why. We think we are wokring toward a quality of life that we are actually walking away from. Our pastor put it this way, "the quality of our lives might be determined more by what we say no to than what we say yes to."
We need to learn to say no. To what? To the things that aren't eternal. Does this mean that everything we do has to be super spiritual, like Bible studies and church services and community outreach. No. But we should always ask if this event or activity is worth the time, money and energy I am going to have to give to it. And what will I have to sacrifice in order to give it those things?
See that's the hitch. For everything we give our time and money and energy to there is something else we are taking it away from. And if I am taking it away from Kingdom things then it isn't okay. And if I am not allowing myself time to refuel in all the ways I need to then it isn't okay.
One of my mentors says that we have to choose what we are willing to fail at. Meaning, something will not get our best, it will not get excellence. And we can choose what that is by how we priotirtize out time, by what we say no too. In case you weren't sure, you don't get to fail at your relationship with God, your marriage or your kids. But you can fail at being a soccer mom or dance mom. You can fail at being the recordholder for most overtime worked. You can fail at social butterfly. And you can fail at pinterest perfectionist.
yes, I want my kids to learn a lot of things. I want them to be successful. I want them to enjoy life and do things they LOVE. But I also want them to know they can't and shouldn't try to do everything they want. I want them to know a day off or a night of netflix are okay. I want them to learn to make time for a good night's sleep and a morning run, and most importantly time with their Creator.