Stephanie Edge, Director of Women’s Ministry, Poplar Heights Baptist Church, Jackson, TN, is our guest blogger today. I know none of you ever has trouble saying “no”, but perhaps some of those on your leadership team do! (LOL!)
Have you ever said “Yes” to something when you really needed to say “No”? Women and leaders, in particular, have multiple activities and opportunities vying for their time, talents, and resources. In addition, saying “No” can be accompanied by guilt trips and disappointing others. Is there a guilt-free way to say “No”? How can we as leaders successfully navigate how we spend our time and resources and help other women to do the same? When is it “OK” to say “No”?
Author and Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer shared a conversation with a mentor concerning time management. Priscilla was asking a how question: “How can I be a good wife, a good mom, a good Bible teacher, etc. In other words, how can I be all things to all people?” Can you relate? Every woman and leader has her own list of responsibilities which can be overwhelming. Priscilla’s mentor simply responded – you can’t, a perhaps startling and shocking response. An answer that contradicts the cultural message to women – you can have and do it all. The mentor explained to Priscilla that she would need to make choices and decisions that would enable her to follow and to fulfill God’s calling on her life. We must first know God’s calling and then order our time and lives accordingly. Priscilla quotes Bible teacher Anne Graham Lotz in Discerning the Voice of God, “I never make a major decision, especially one that will affect another person, before I receive direction from God.” Knowing when to say “Yes” requires seeking God’s face.
Well-known Bible teacher Beth Moore has often spoken about the demands and choices she faces. She speaks of the sacrifices that are necessary for her to spend the needed time in Bible study in order to fulfill God’s call of teaching women. Sometimes these are tough choices. Speaker and Bible teacher Mary Kassian explained how she decides which speaking engagements to accept by saying that she must be sure that God is calling her there because if not, she is standing in the way of someone else who He has called. How many times have we as leaders stepped in and accepted a responsibility that someone else was called to fulfill? Anne referred to this – our decisions not only affect us, but others as well.
Jesus experienced the multiple opportunities, demands, and the expectations of others during His ministry. Mark 1 gives an account of the activities of His ministry that included calling the disciples (16-20), preaching in the synagogue (21-22), casting out an unclean spirit (23-24), healing Simon’s mother-in-law (29-31), and healing the sick and demon-possessed (32-34). It is important to note Jesus’ actions in v. 35-39, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there. Simon and his companions went searching for Him. They found Him and said, `Everyone’s looking for you.’ And He said to them, `Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.’ So He went into all of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” In this passage, Jesus was faced with multiple possible actions that He could take and was told of the people’s expectations and desires. However, Jesus makes a different choice. He knew God’s will because He had spent time with the Father. Therefore, He was able to say, “No” to the wrong requests and “Yes” to God’s purpose for Him.
(1) We must give ourselves and other women permission to say “No”.
(2) We must spend time with the Father in order to know when to say “Yes”.
(3) Fulfilling God’s purpose requires tough choices and determination.
Stephanie Edge is the Director of Women’s Ministry, Poplar Heights Baptist Church, Jackson, TN and a Lifeway Ministry Multiplier. She is an Associate Professor at Union University in Jackson, TN. Stephanie graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. She also received an Advanced Women’s Ministry Certificate as well as completed a Th.M. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Christian Education. She has a passion for God’s Word and enjoys ministering to women.