Do you ever feel under the weight of demands, pressures, everyone’s expectations of this or that, never getting quite ahead of the game, never meeting full approval of anyone? You give your best week in and week out. Your Board seems to be looking at you askance. Your people question your theology, or judge your sermons as too long, or whisper about your son’s hair length. Your family feels short-changed. Your schedule is killing you. And you can never quite meet the multitudinous demands. Furthermore, despite your life of dedication to the Kingdom of God and His purposes, you privately feel a sadness, a lacking of fuel for the soul. You are committed to your church people, but they seem unaware of how much they require. You feel overwhelmed. Used and used up. Worn out. Yes? And you’re a mature man of the Faith! The leader of your band of believers! How must they be doing? They suffer the same dilemma of endless demands by good, needy people wanting good things done, for God’s good will, creating stress and overload. The whip of the good. Author Lysa Terkeurst gets it. And, she’s got some relevant, rich, practical, enriching thoughts, from heaven itself. It’s hinted at in the title of her new book, The Best Yes.
A best yes? Is there a not-best yes, even a not-good yes? A wrong yes? A destructive yes?
Yes – that horrid and life-draining little word, the word that dictates your decisions and harasses you day by day and crushes your best-laid plans. You say yes, you agree, you acquiesce, and then you’re stuck in tyranny of your Yes. All the yeses that now hound your life. “Yes, I’ll teach that study.” “Yes, I can visit your hospitalized friend.” “Yes, I’ll take that last-minute counseling appointment.” “Yes, I’ll come over right now, at midnight, in the rain, Saturday night.” “Yes, I’ll officiate at your neighbor’s wedding.” “Yes…” All good things, right? And, Sunday morning’s message lies in rough outline on your desk. Your own people have the same habit of Yesing. “Yes, I’ll head up that committee.” “Yes, I’ll teach 2nd grade boys.” “Yes, I’ll join the choir.” All good things! All things that must be done. But, perhaps, to the detriment of God’s Best Yes for their divine purposes.
Terkeurst warns against confusing “the command to love with the disease to please.” She begins to explain the heart of her book, “It’s not just because of the vicious cycles of people-pleasing, although that’s part of it. I miss Best Yes opportunities sometimes because I simply don’t know they’re part of the equation. I get all twisted up in making the decision to check either the Yes or No box, not realizing there is a third box that reads Best Yes.”
Terkeurst’s chapter titles piqued my curiosity from the get-go: Chapter 3: Overwhelmed Schedule, Underwhelmed Soul. Ok, I can relate right there. She sheds some light: “The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.” Chapter 7: Analysis Paralyses. I tend to over-think decisions, wanting to see clearly where this decision is going to end up. And I end up doubting, frozen. Does that sound all-too-familiar? Terkeurst helps: “If you desire to please God with the decision you make and afterward it proves to be a mistake, it’s an error not an end.” OK, I’ve got to think on that. And on this: “My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.” And this one every pastor – every person – could use some help with, Chapter 10: Managing Demands Means Understanding Expectations. On the one hand, “The space between our expectations and our reality is a fertile field and it’s the perfect place to grow a bumper crop of disappointment.” How well we know! But she explains the considerations of every decision to avoid that bumper crop, such as determining what to expect, and what is unrealistic, then how to apply these realizations to a decision I’m making today. Then, and no small issue, Chapter 11, The Power of the Small No. Telling someone no. I personally have loathed to disappoint a parishioner or friend. But she encourages, “There is power in the small no if only we’ll choose to use it. The power is in saying no before things grow to the place where a no becomes even harder to give, more painful than if given early on, or so much is already put in motion that now the no feels nearly impossible to realistically implement.” Been there, done that. She argues well that small nos are good gifs. And she encourages us that “I will not let the awkward disappointments of others keep from my Best Yes appointments with God.” She brings up another point which is an embarrassing reality, Chapter 13: But What if I Say No and They Stop Liking Me?. Are we, long-time pastors and church leaders, much less our people, ever disabled by such a worry? Oh, yes. She reminds us,
“If the person you are trying so hard not to disappoint will be displeased by a no, they’ll eventually be disappointed even if you say yes.”
Terkeurst, in her final Chapter 19, makes that concluding and convincing challenge. We Make Choices Then Our Choices Make Us. A point to ponder anew, and then again, and then again: “It’s not the activities or accomplishments we string together that make lives well lived as much as it is the hearts of wisdom we gain and use along the way.” She concludes resoundingly, “In God’s plan, you and I have a part to play. If we know it and believe it, we’ll live it. We’ll live our life making decisions with the Best Yes as our best filter. We’ll be a grand display of God’s Word lived out. Our undistracted love will make our faith ring true. Our wisdom will help us make decisions that will still be good tomorrow. And we’ll be alive and present for all of it.” Pastor, if you’ve led a church for more than a month, you need to be reminded of the wisdom and guidance of this book. Rather than get bogged down with the demands of your role, see clearly how to weave your way through all your day-by-day, big and small decisions to a life of hard work yet confident service to God’s people. And, for their health’s sake, have your church family read The Best Yes, and read it again. And again. Teach the principles. Immerse them in the scriptures she cites. Share the enjoyment of living the Best Yes life!
Highlights from the Author Chat:
• The 3 steps to unrush your schedule • How not to miss sacred, God-ordained moments! • The 2 Most Powerful Words • How to avoid “Analysis Paralysis” • The 5 Parts to Making a Decision • Making wise choices • The “Small No” is a good gift to ourselves as well as others • Enjoying the unrushed life
Watch the Conversation Now:
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Pastors, join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about learning to embrace your best yes!