True wisdom is knowing when you need to say 'no'

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"I'm so busy."

I think I hear that at least a dozen times a day.

Truth is, I don't know anyone who isn't busy. There certainly are plenty of things to fill our days. Doctor appointments, rushing children back and forth from school, to soccer to church events just the essential errands of going to the gas station and the grocery store are enough to keep busy. That doesn't even include keeping up with the plethora of reality TV shows.

Maybe you've been a part of a conversation like this; "I can't wait until I retire. Then I can finally do what I want."

Ah, the promise of sweet freedom of the golden years ahead dangles before you like the proverbial carrot.

The strange thing is the people I know who have just retired or have been enjoying the "sweet life of retirement" for some time now all share the exact same bit of wisdom.

They all tell me, "I'm busier now than when I was working. Really, I don't know how I had time to work."

What's a busy guy to do?

Scripture passes on the prayer of learning to number our days in order to have a heart of wisdom. Meaning that learning to discern what to do with each opportunity and the courage to take the right ones accompanied with the bravery to say "no" to the wrong ones is a learned skill.

Nehemiah had worked with the people to overcome tremendous obstacles in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

He led the people to battle their own apathy, to face the pressure to give in when their lives were threatened and to face the dilemma of giving up when family pressure was on. Now that the walls are near complete he receives an invitation for a private meeting with his enemies travel 25 miles northwest of the city in the middle of nowhere. Four times the invitation came to him and four times he responded the same way. "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down."

This great leader learned what was great and how to say no to anything less than. His priority was to glorify God and restore dignity to the people by rebuilding the walls. Until that was complete everything else was second.

A great work that demands your whole attention gives you the freedom so say "no."

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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