Age and maturity has helped me better discern what I can do and should do based on my strengths, weaknesses, passions and dreams. It’s freeing when we become more certain in who God has wired us to be and who He has not.
Still, I’ve equally learned – through many different seasons – there are often more opportunities than time in life – even God-honoring, seemingly good opportunities. I have recently had to say no to some great opportunities. These were things I would have clearly thought had to be “God appointed”. They were things I wanted to do. But, as much as they lined with my strengths, passions, and dreams, I said “no” to them.
How do you know when to say no to what looks like a good thing — perhaps initially even like a “God thing”?
Here are 4 ways I know when to respond no:
God’s calling on my life says no.
This trumps all the others. This applies to many decisions, but let me use my vocation as an example. I do not believe I’m called to a place as much as I’m called to a Person — the Person of Jesus Christ. I believe God often gives tremendous latitude in where we serve. There are seasons of life, however, where I know He has positioned me in a place “for such a time as this”. There are things He has called me to complete “at such a times as this” God always has a right to change my assignment, but when He has made the assignment clear the decisions of yes and no should become easier.
My heart doesn’t line up with this decision.
If I can’t get “peace” about saying “yes” it usually means I need to wait or say no. This requires consistent prayer and wrestling with opportunities in front of me, but the more I pray the more confident I become in sensing God’s specific will for my life and in this decision.
When it distracts from what God has called me to do.
I can’t do everything or be everywhere. I can only do what I can do. There is nothing wrong with taking assignments just because I want to do them. If, however, it is going to get in the way of my ultimate calling – the right answer – the often difficult, but brave answer is to say no.
And, this one is often seasonal. In the initial days of a new job I have less time than when I actually figure out what I’m doing. (I’m there again right now.) When my boys were young and at home I couldn’t do some of the traveling I can do now. But, the key is knowing who God has called me to be and what He has called me to do – in this season of my life.
When my personal strengths and interests don’t match the opportunity and I don’t sense an urgency from God.
I have learned situational or physical limitations aren’t a factor if God is in the mix. He can part waters if they are in the way, so I can do things outside of my strengths, but in my life God seems to usually work within the experiences and gifting He has granted me. Why would He waste the investments He has already made in me? Therefore, apart from a sense God is challenging me in a direction outside my gifting, I can rest within the place where He has been preparing me and say no to those He has not.
Discerning the heart of the decision is critical and requires a consistent, close, seeking the heart of God relationship with the Father. I realize it’s much easier to write this post than to live this post, but hopefully this will help you as you too wrestle with the seemingly good, even sometimes seemingly God opportunities.
I wish I had used this paradigm earlier in life, because it would have saved me some heartache. My hope now is it will save you some.
What “good things” do you need to say “no” to during this season of your life?