I’ve got an invitation in my e-mail box to do some writing for someone. It’s a paying gig, which is a rare and wonderful thing… though let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not much. And I try not to break it down by the hour.
I’ve written for this outfit before. It’s not hard stuff, and I believe in what they’re doing, but it’s not exactly what I want to be focusing on right now. There are two large projects I want to work on that I really feel energy for, but there’s no deadline on them, and if they take a little longer because of side projects, well, nobody will care but me (and perhaps my writing group).
The invitation came right before I left, so I mulled it on my trip. As often happens, I came home from our travels invigorated, and resolved to be intentional about the things I take on, to avoid doing things just because they’re expected of me by others. Again I link to the Christian Century and the article about the power of travel.
Our church also suffered a sudden, unexpected loss of a pillar member while I was away. I will miss T and her caring spirit. Such losses always invite us to consider our lives and make course corrections if necessary. Life is short and we are each irreplaceable.
So this morning I started to write a “no thanks” e-mail… and then something stopped me. I started to think about how the project really wouldn’t take that much time, and it’s far enough out that I could plan my time to get it done and also work on my personal projects. It’s a slightly different focus than the work I’ve done for them before, which makes it enticing. Besides… I’m a writer. I serve a church part-time so that I can work on projects just like this one.
Those are all valid points, but I wonder if they are really what stopped me. Maybe I stopped because of fear. Maybe I am worried that if I start saying no to stuff, people will stop asking. Or maybe it’s ego—I want to feel important and needed. Or maybe it’s competitiveness—they’ll ask someone else and like his/her stuff better.
First John talks about “testing the spirits” to see if they are of God. If I am leaning toward yes, and and that comes from a place of trust and joy, then I want to go that way. If I am working primarily out of fear or shadow stuff, then I want to check that. Unfortunately, most decisions are a muddled mix of both.
Interestingly, Bruce Reyes-Chow (the former moderator of our denomination) just announced today that he’s letting go of two projects he’s been working on. I admire his discernment and am sure it was tough. I believe in saying No when it allows you to work on the larger Yes, but discerning what that is isn’t easy.
How do you decide to say no to worthy invitations? How do you determine what’s “yours to do”?