Saturday, November 7, 2015

On Closing Doors

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The summer after my eighth grade year, my brother was preparing for his senior year.  One morning, he was headed off to help with an FFA contest, but a couple of people had just canceled, leaving the opportunity for me to fill their spots.  However, I was easily intimidated by the older kids.  I was still debating as he headed out the door, and said, “You can choose to be involved, or you can choose to not be involved.”  His words resonated with me, I hopped in the passenger side of his truck and had a great day.

Today, our society seems to be on overdrive with activities.  Networking, serving, socializing, and honing skills are all very important to me.  Many times we say we can’t, when really we could, and we would better ourselves or others richly. 

But other times...you just can’t.

One of my unofficial personal mantras is “take advantage of all opportunities.”  However, hubby and I just decided to let an opportunity pass. 

It was a little rough deciding.  There’s a good chance this one might come back around, but lots of them do not.  So how do you decide to let an opportunity pass?  Here are some of the guidelines I try to keep in mind:

1)      The people who care about you are not encouraging.

Whether it’s a new boyfriend, a new car, or a new job – the opinion of close family and friends matters.  They know you well and want what’s best for you.  If it’s just one of them, it might be different, but when everyone in my life seems hesitant about what I’m about to take on, it’s red flag number one. 

2)      It’s the wrong timing.

Sometimes, the opportunity is perfect, but it comes at the wrong time.  If you have other commitments you need to fulfill, you’ll have to pass.  Several people have advised me that being deeply involved in two or three roles is much better than loose involvement in many organizations.  In the meantime, that means we have to say no in order to continue excellent service to our current commitments.

3)      Your family needs you.

I really wish career services would’ve spent a smidge less time talking about resumes, and taken a session to talk about how family works into career and adult life.  Our two-year-old and two-month-old bring us so much joy...  but for us, that comes with backing off of personal ambitions a bit.

4)      It’s distracting you from your goals.

My dad’s a pretty wise guy.  His advice is always to think about what your bigger goals are.  Does this particular opportunity help you achieve those goals?  If yes, go for it.  If not, find a different opportunity that does.

5)      You’re saying no to the wrong thing.

You’ve maybe heard it said – saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else.  Saying yes might be worth the trade-off, but what are you saying no to?  Family time, date night, cooking a healthy dinner, sleep, going the extra mile in your job?

6)      You don’t have the right resources to take advantage of the opportunity.

I’m definitely a big picture thinker.  That also means I often form opinions based on how I want my life or our operation to look down the road.  However, we still have to afford the time and the payments TODAY.  No matter how sweet the deal may be in the long run, make sure you currently have the resources to support that decision.

7)      You’re not square with your Creator on it.

I’ve known for over a year that this last opportunity, at this time, probably wasn’t right for us.  God hasn’t slapped me in the face with it.  He hasn’t had to.  He’s been nudging me in that ever-present, low-lying gut-feeling to back up.  But I wanted what I wanted, and I kept pushing that voice away and justifying.  I prayed about it, and when I didn’t like the answer I quit praying about it.  I can admit how foolish that was.  If I pursued it, He would've helped me make the best of it, but I know if I’m obedient, He has other, better plans in the works – why else would He ever ask us to wait or tell us no?

8)      Your motives are questionable.

This one is key.  You HAVE to get to the bottom of it.  And the question is NOT why would most people want to do this?  Nor: what are the right reasons a person should want to do this?  The question is: deep down, why do you want to do this?  If pride is any part of it, particularly if it is a major motivating part, walk AWAY.  There are so many verses that point to this idea, and I have to share.

“You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.  You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  …But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” James 4:2b-3, 6

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 6:1

I often get ahead of myself.  Just because I could do it doesn’t mean I should do it.  My trouble usually comes when I create a vision for my life before consulting God about His vision for the next stage of my life.  Here’s to quitting that.  Because what comes from God is always better than what comes from me.