Friday, April 30, 2010

Lessons Learned

By Mary Byers

I well remember a time (it was recently, unfortunately) when I said yes when I should have said no. I wasn’t really interested in the project but felt I should say yes, especially when I learned there “wasn’t anyone else to do it.” I liked the person who was asking me, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Instead of carefully comparing the job requirements with my skills and reviewing my calendar before I gave my answer, however, I said yes without thinking about it. And then, I lived to regret it.

Red flags were waving wildly during the phone call in which I was approached about taking on the task. There were three warning signals, in fact: I felt I should; there wasn’t anyone else to do it; and I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings. All of those were poor reasons to say yes. Since then, I’ve learned that an unenthusiastic yes is worse than a firm no, simply because it leads to mediocrity.

“Mediocre” means “of moderate to low quality; average.” When you’re apathetic about something, your performance tends to be mediocre because enthusiasm often makes up for what you lack in skill. I’m ashamed to admit that my performance was less than stellar when I said yes to my friend. I did only what was necessary, and nothing more.

It wasn’t that I actively set out to be mediocre. But in looking back, I realize my performance was lackluster. Because I wasn’t interested, I didn’t bring any energy or creativity to the task. In the long run, it would have been better if I had said no. Perhaps then my friend would have found a passionate volunteer rather than a passive one. I’m not proud of this story, mind you, but I share it because of the lesson learned.

What lessons have you learned about no-saying? Are you making notes and paying attention to them so that you don’t repeat them? Smart people learn from the past. Fools don’t.

I know that Jesus has specifically gifted me and I’m trying to use my gifts for the Kingdom in the very best way possible. But doing so requires being mindful about my skills and carefully choosing the activities I should be involved with. And I’m working hard to trust that God will take care of the rest.


  1. Wow this really ministered to me. Thanks!

  2. This is the story of my life! I find myself doing things because no one else would or because someone asked me. Thank you for reminding me that I must be mindful about my skills and activities.

  3. Thank you for the insight and reminder.

  4. Geraldine WoodellMay 10, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    I've found that if it's hard/impossible to find someone to take on an activity or ministry, that's likely a signal that either the activity isn't really needed, or that the timing is not right. If you have to push, cajole or create guilt to launch anything, it's apt to flounder before long.