Saying “Yes” in a Season of “No”: Getting on Offense for God – Yvette Walker
Have you ever felt like you were on a moving sidewalk? It’s like you’re not walking under your own power, just moving forward. Just going, not even toward an object or destination.
Or what about Sunday night, when another week has ended and another is beginning, and you can’t see you’re making any progress?
That’s what’s it like to live “on defense” – letting life happen to you. Recently, a pastor spoke a message that opened up everything I had been going through.
Before I get to the message, I need to tell you that I’m not a sports girl. I mean to say, I wasn’t raised on sports. There was my just sister and me, no brothers in the family, and we were pretty girly. My poor dad didn’t have a chance to indoctrinate us into fandom, even in my sports-driven hometown of Chicago.
So when I heard that a former high school and collegiate football coach was coming to talk to us at church, I didn’t have high hopes to be inspired (or even understand) the message.
But Pastor Tom Mullins shattered those expectations when he spoke into my heart:
“Get on offense. Initiate pressure instead of reacting to it.”
His message rang in my head because I’ve been living on defense for years. Mullins used the football imagery of staying on your toes, because “we can’t play on our heels.”
And my heels are just so darn tired. Living on defense has kept me from staying true to the purpose God is calling me to.
When I’m saying YES to everything, I’m saying NO to him.
I’ve been thinking about this recently, even making a list of some things I can stop doing. So it surprised me as I found myself saying yes to a longtime friend I’d recently reconnected with.
She wanted to begin a daily morning group to make time for writing and inspiration.
Daily? At 7 a.m.? But I jumped at it because this yes puts me on offense. I’ll write a bit every morning, and spend some time in the Bible. This yes speaks to my purpose.
She and I both agreed that we say yes too much. We stretch ourselves way too thin. And it’s usually because we don’t want to disappoint others.
She remembered a friend who was good at saying no – in a kind way – and how she really respected that.
I remembered the time a friend asked me if I planned to go to an event and I said yes, not even knowing what event she was talking about.
This sent up several red flags that I need to address in life:
Red flag #1: My schedule was so packed, it was just one thing that I thought I had forgotten.
Red flag #2: I wondered if I would disappoint if I didn’t go.
Red flag #3: I questioned my own decision-making power.
We laughed, thinking about these stories. My friend said she was surprised that saying no was ever an option. But saying yes without real commitment is the greater evil.
In second Chronicles, God expects us to be truly committed:
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9
So how can we stay fully committed? By getting on offense and creating a strategy for your purpose.
Cleaning expert Marie Kondo’s method of only keeping things that “spark joy” speaks to this. In our case, we’re accumulating tasks instead of things, but as we shed the tasks, we need to keep the ones that spark joy.
Here are five tips to be strategic to your purpose:
1. Learn to say no to anything that won’t further your commitment to God. He must come first, and his Word is your gamebook.
2. Set your alarm 30 minutes to an hour early. We value that which we make time for. Use that time to work on your purpose. For me, it’s writing essays, working on my podcast, or crafting Christian songs.
3. Don’t worry about disappointing others with your no. You will learn what to say no to, and believe it or not, it will begin to feel good.
4. Clean out your task closet. Like Kondo says, keep the ones that spark joy. Generally, these are the ones that align with God’s word.
5. Find a support team. Paul says in Romans 1:12 says, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” I encourage YOU to get off defense and stay on offense. Tom Mullins is right, we must live on principle, not “by the pressure of the world.” Making a strategic plan that is true to God’s purpose for our lives is a way to initiate that pressure and not react to it.
Yvette Walker is the founder of Positively Joy Ministries at positivelyjoy.com and manages a Facebook community group along with other social media related to her ministry. Yvette is a college dean of students and has been a newspaper editor, a news ombudsman, a reporter, and a web manager. She is a native of Chicago and now lives in Oklahoma.