As a kid, I never passed up the chance the skip rocks when I was near water. Now, having two boys of my own, they are following in my footsteps. While teaching them how to skip rocks, I’ve explained that with each skip of the rock, you’ll create a new ripple, and the better the initial contact with the water the more skips/ripples you’ll see. It’s all about the first contact the rock makes with the water.
Life presents us with many decisions, and each decision, whether we realize it or not, is like a perfectly skipped rock… It “ripples” into other areas of our lives. Therefore, we have to make decisions with this ripple effect in mind. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that each time I say YES to something or someone I am also saying NO to something or someone else. On the other hand, each time I say NO I’m also giving myself a chance to say YES to a greater priority. My decisions are not isolated decisions that are singular in their scope, so I must…
1) Know my priorities
2) Understand the potential ripples of each decision
3) Make decisions with number 1 and 2 in mind because simply having good intentions won’t be enough.
Let me illustrate this from a few different perspectives…
On a small scale, each time I say YES to looking at something insignificant on my phone while half paying attention to my kids, who are trying to show me something they’ve made or drawn, means I’m also saying NO to them. On second thought, that’s a pretty big deal, so I guess it’s not a small scale issue. If I do that enough, they’ll eventually stop asking me to look at things (there’s the ripple), or they’ll be grown before I realize it, and I’ll be wishing I could get those moments back.
Let’s think about our favorite hobbies or activities? Obviously, we need to do things that bring a sense of refreshment to our lives, but how much do we really NEED? “How much” is the question because each time you say YES to that hobby you will have to say NO to something or someone else. Do your hobbies get financial priority over how you give to your church or others who are in need? How generous are you with your resources? While we can say YES to both hobbies and generosity, one will get the priority if money gets tight. For every YES there’s also a NO.
How about people? If you are a people person, chances are you could fill up your schedule on a regular basis with people, but how does this impact your relationship with your spouse or kids? Each time you say YES to someone else you are saying NO to others. Who needs your time the most? Are they getting it? Has it become too easy to say NO to those closest to you? Yes, we need relationships outside of our spouse and kids, but we must ensure our time with them is intentional. Consider that Jesus spent most of His time with only twelve people… More time with fewer people produces greater results! That’s the key to seeing change happen in the people around us!
From the other perspective, let’s examine the impact of saying NO… Each time you say NO to an activity that would fill a regular space on your schedule you are consequently creating space for you to say YES to something even better. Take sports for example. I love sports. I want my boys to play sports. However, how much sports activity do we want to say YES to as a family? While we can live on mission while playing sports, are there other things we could do with our time that are even more Kingdom (God’s, not mine) focused? We will say YES to some sports, but we’ll also have times where we’ll say NO so that we can say YES to other opportunities that will better strengthen us as a family and allow us to invest our lives into others.
2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us that we must “take every though captive to obey Christ.” Jesus doesn’t expect you to stretch yourself so thin that you don’t have the awareness or bandwidth to say YES to what and who matters most. Enjoy and embrace each day God has given you. Steward the moments well. Live with no regrets!