Two clear, simple words. Yes. No. One is affirmative. The other negative. Yet, these two little words carry explosive power. Consider the power of the word “yes” when asked, “will you marry me?” Or the impact of the word “no” when asked, “will you chair the school charity fundraiser.”

Yes and no determine paths. With each yes, even small ones, we choose a path. That path influences the destinations toward which we travel. Each “yes” sets us on a course until we either finish what we started or change our mind and turn “yes” into “no.”

I remember vividly saying “yes,” allowing our boys to play youth football. It seemed an easy “yes.” They were excited. It would be a fun adventure. Within a few weeks, we learned what that “yes” entailed. It meant at least two-hour practices late in the afternoon, five days a week. Then there were the games that lasted most of the day Saturday as we waited in the queue for our team to take the field. Dinners suffered from the crazy schedule, which meant we ate out more often. The boys were exhausted from the relentless schedule, even though they had great fun. By the time the season ended, the boys had no energy left for the upcoming basketball season, which was their number one love. One seemingly small “yes” turned our lives upside down for a season.

Every “yes” we utter is also a “no” to something else. The decision between the two small words becomes critical when it comes to the commitments we make. Each choice becomes a path that not only sets us in a direction, but it also precludes other possibilities.

Two tendencies have shown themselves in our household. First, we say “yes” too often without adequately considering the ramifications, and quickly end up overloaded and stressed. Second, we say “yes” to mediocre choices, like TV or social media, not realizing that each “yes” is a “no” to other possibilities, like reading a book, or dinner with friends. Both tendencies say “yes” to average at the expense of the best.

“No” also has its power. A few years ago, after a process of discernment, I said “no” to an offer to be an elder at our church. Shortly after this, an opportunity arose to be involved in the leadership of a new Mentoring ministry. Had I not said “no,” the subsequent “yes” would have been impossible.

Yes and no pack an enormous punch. What are a few guidelines that can help us better determine when to say yes, and when to say no?

  • Ask yourself, “is this ‘yes’ worthy of the precious minutes of my life?” Our yeses should sound like “YES!!!”
  • Say “no” more often to time wasters. We may not always realize it, but the “yes” to time-wasters are also a “no” to time-enhancers.
  • Pray about significant decisions and talk them over with close friends or family. Be wary of impulsively saying “yes.”
  • Leave plenty of margin around your “yes”. New opportunities always arise. If our schedules are too packed, we may either miss something fantastic or be prone to overload our lives.
  • When the time is right, don’t be afraid of “yes”. Yeses are the spice of life. Life is an adventure to be lapped up, not a threat to be feared.

Consider choices that you have at this moment to say “yes” or “no.” Each “yes” implies a “no” and each “no” opens up the possibilities of a better “yes.” What will you say?

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Richard H Kemper says:

    Beautiful. I needed this today. Yes and No. Thank you.

  • This is gold. I hope people will take this to heart.

    I also realize that it is easier for men to do this than women, based on conversations with my wife and her friends, who feel the pressure to get the kids everywhere they need to go.

    Men, give your wife permission not to have to be perfect in this regards, she needs the leadership. Women give your husband permission to not have to do every networking event, he needs to be present with you and your family.

    No, can increase our energy as well as having the right Yes does. Thank you Tommy for making me think this morning!

  • Jennifer Mitchell says:

    This resonated with me, Tommy! Thanks for your insight and heart in this.

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