A ‘Yes’ is Also a ‘No’

Photo by Davide Ragusa

Photo by Davide Ragusa

A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine was treating me to a pork chop lunch at Perry’s.  If you haven’t tried it, you must.  It’s delicious and quite affordable.  This guy is also a pastor and one of my closest friends.  In many ways, he and I are alike, but we are also very different in other ways.  These differences make us stronger, and we complement each other well.

We got onto the subject of money as it pertains to family, ministry, and business (we both are both pastors, but also in businesses).  He is always very honest with me, so while I was sharing with him that we don’t currently have much in the way of savings, he looked at me and said, “Maybe you’re being too generous with your time and your services?”  At first I wanted to become defensive and call him a cheapskate, but he went on, “Whenever you discount prices or do things for free, you are saying ‘Yes’ to them, and ‘No’ to your family.”  WHAM!  That hit me in a way that I had never considered, and it made me sad.

Whether it is offering discounts to authors through my company, Lucid Books, or coaching/consulting ministries and businesses for free, or giving of my time in various ways, it has consequences in other places.  When I say ‘Yes’, I’m also saying ‘No’.  Sadly, the majority of the time, I’m saying ‘No’ to my wife and daughters.  In theory, this is not okay to me, but in practice this is exactly what I was doing.

Here’s what I mean.  Whenever I say ‘Yes’ to consulting or coaching, but am not compensated, then I am taking time away from my family.  This is fine, but it is not okay, when I’m constantly having to tell my family, “No, I’m sorry, we cannot go on a family vacation,” or “No, we cannot afford that.”

This is not at all to say that I am complaining about the inherent sacrifices that we are called to because we are in ministry, but it is eye opening on how to better value my family, and in turn my time.

If you know me at all, then you know that I find great joy in being a generous person and blessing other people, but I am now re-thinking about being in a place where I can afford to be generous.

This simple concept has revealed to me that stewardship isn’t just about whether or not to give money, but the overall management of our time and resources.  Generosity should come from a place of ability and freedom, not obligation.

The fact is, I have no problem paying for people’s time or services, and when I am always giving everything away from me, I am saying ‘No’ to the closest people in my life.  There are certainly times to say ‘Yes,’ but we need to remember, with every ‘Yes’ there is also a ‘No’.

So here’s a few ways that this is challenging to think differently:

  1. The Way I Use My Time.  I’ve heard it said multiple times that our time is one of the greatest assets.  Time is money, right?  This is especially true as a pastor.  A lot of my ‘job’ deals with how I spend my time, whether it is counseling couples, writing sermons, leading teams, or whatever, a lot of what I ‘produce’ is intangible, but it is still of value.  My calling is directed to my church, and my church is generous to do their best to compensate me for what I do.  In the same way, whenever I say ‘Yes’ to a coaching opportunity, whether ministry or business, it will require time away from my other responsibilities and I need to make sure it is a good use of my time, and a good use of time for those whom I coach.  Additionally, there have been many occasions (sadly) where I have said ‘yes’ to folks, given my time and emotional energy, and then went home and gave my family a ‘no’ at least as far as an emotional engagement goes.  This is not okay.
  2. The Way I Charge for Services.  I hate charging money for services.  In fact, when I travel and speak, I have never charged a set fee, but instead provided a range of what other hosts have been providing in the way of honorariums.  With publishing, I would always immediately offer discounts, not because I don’t believe in the high quality publishing we offer, but because of my own insecurities.  I was saying ‘Yes’ to the potential author, but ‘No’ to my team, and my family.  We are not yet in a place to be able to do that, so I will have to change in this area as well.  My friend actually said to me, “You’ve done a lot of wonderful things, but there’s not much to show for it.”  He wasn’t being rude, but in the context of our finances, he was offering an honest assessment.
  3. Positioning Myself to Say ‘Yes’ to my Family.  This is last, but really first.  My family, especially my wife, has been extremely generous and gracious with me over the years of traveling and speaking, church planting, starting businesses, and just being married to an ADD man like me.  I realize that I need to be more frequently postured to say ‘Yes’ to my family, instead of them always getting my ‘No’.  Pray for me in this regard.  It’s important.

So, this is what I’ve been thinking through and I’m still processing it.  I love being a pastor, a speaker, an author, a publisher, and a coach (of which I’m doing more of these days), but at the end of the day, I’m called to follow Jesus, love and lead my wife, and cherish my children.  I need to be more thoughtful about my ‘Yes’ and realize what or whom I am saying ‘No’ to.

What are you saying ‘Yes’ to that is in turn a costly ‘No’ for those you love?  Feel free to share by leaving a comment below.

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