Just Say “No”??

Several years back, when I was in full-time ministry, a frequent topic at conferences was on Saying “No.” Setting Boundaries. Building in Margin.Blazing-fireball-opens-annual-Geminid-meteor-show-Meteor_10

I never fully related to this, for two reasons. One is that I didn’t think I had a problem with saying “no.” Boundaries seemed to come naturally to me. If someone asks me to do something when I’ve planned to spend time alone with the Lord, I say, “Sorry, I already have a commitment then. How about Tuesday?” I don’t feel a need to explain or justify myself.

The other reason is that it didn’t seem spot on to me. Not exactly how Jesus lived. One of the wisest women I know, Ney Bailey, once told me, “If you have to err, err on the side of loving and serving others. That’s how Jesus lived.”

Once, when the disciples were exhausted from constant serving, he told them to “come away by yourselves to a secluded place to rest a while.” (Mark 6:31).

Rest is vital. Our souls and our bodies crave it. We can’t function without it and we can’t give out of a vacuum. We need constant filling-up.

As the disciples were out on the lake, headed toward that secluded spot, a throng of people ran after them and arrived on the other shore before the boat did. Jesus didn’t say, “No!” and send them away. Instead, he felt compassion for them and taught them until late. This crowd was the 5,000 he ended up feeding with five loaves and two fish.

The reason we say “no” is in order to say “yes.”  I like to focus on the “yes” part. What are the things God wants me to do? How can I have enough time, energy, and finances to do those priority things wholeheartedly?

Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe – just maybe – I’ve said “yes” to too many things. It’s not that I can’t say “no.” It’s that I don’t want to. I want to do it all. Herein lies my problem.

I guess my philosophy of life lines up with Jack London’s: “I would rather my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dryrot.”

I’ve taken on a lot this year. Full-time job, Cru ministry on the side, moonlighting as a writer, endless speaking opportunities. I love it all (except maybe the job – just sayin’). I feel like God is using me; and that is nothing short of thrilling.

Am I spreading myself so thin that I’m just not doing anything well anymore? Is everything I touch just mediocre?

I worry that I’m neglecting my husband. But he’s my most enthusiastic supporter, always encouraging me to go for it. “How many more chances will you have to do this?” he says.

Am I too old for this? I mean, it’s been 23 years since I was last involved in U.S. campus ministry. The students I disciple today were not even born when I left U.C. Berkeley for Romania. I like to think I have as much energy as I did then, but perhaps my two illnesses this year should give me a clue.

Is it too much? I honestly don’t know. I don’t have answers yet; just questions.

2 thoughts on “Just Say “No”??

  1. Daniel


    I really like the comment your husband made in supporting you. You are not too old to minister to those much younger. Think about how much older and wiser Ney Bailey was when she impacted your life.!

  2. Taryn Hutchison Post author

    Daniel, I do think about Ney a lot in this stage of my life. I’m the age she was when she started coming to Romania each year. But I’ll never be as wise. Remember when she came once and asked how long for her talk to the students. You said something to the effect of it’s OK, they’re used to sitting for hours and being bored. She laughed and laughed! It was classic Daniel.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *