When it comes to personal boundaries, most of us lean in one of two directions. The first is this: we wall ourselves in and keep others at arm’s length, (maybe using sarcasm or busyness or deflecting questions back). Or we have no boundaries at all. We say ‘yes’ to everything, we’re terrified of causing offense and we’re over-committed and exhausted. Tea rota? Check. Baby-sitting? Check. 24/7 Emergency helpline for friends and family? Check.
Neither of these are good options but both can be dressed to look godly. Think for example of the study leader who’s great at listening, but refuses to ever open up: ‘I just feel that your problems are more important than mine’. Or the jokey mate who tells you not to be so serious. Perhaps, like me, you’ve said ‘yes’ to the wrong things and ‘no’ to the right. You’ve hidden behind words, dishes and good intentions…and you’ve burned yourself out thinking it’s for other people’s sake.
It might seem obvious that the Christian answer to every request for help is Yes. But here’s a few reasons that may not be the case:
1. Maybe saying Yes betrays your Saviour complex
2. Maybe saying Yes betrays your desire to be a martyr
3. Maybe saying Yes is about fueling your need to be needed
4. Maybe saying Yes betrays your belief that no-one can do it like you
5. Maybe saying Yes steals someone else’s opportunity to help
6. Maybe saying Yes creates an unhealthy dependence on you
7. Maybe saying Yes steals you away from the people who really need you
8. Maybe saying Yes keeps you from your real calling (which you’re afraid of)
9. Maybe saying Yes keeps you from rest and stillness that scares you
10. Maybe saying Yes is a way of giving out so no-one can come in
There are many occasions where it’s right to say ‘yes’. But sometimes the wise and loving thing is actually ‘no’.