Tag Archives: responsibilities

Pushing Through … and When to Say “Enough” (Guest Post)

Know when to push through, and when to say "enough"

[image via Pixabay]

Pushing Through … and When to Say Enough

by Steph Beth Nickel

Many of us have a difficult time saying no when asked to do something—even if we really don’t have enough time or energy to take on one more thing, no matter how small.

And, as Christians, a whirlwind of thoughts may rush to mind:

  • What if this is an opportunity God has placed before me?
  • What if I miss something He has for me?
  • If I have the ability to do what is being asked of me and there’s a need, isn’t that enough indication that I’m supposed to do it?

And what about those other questions, those questions we may not actually verbalize?

  • What will so and so think of me if I say no?
  • Who will do it if I don’t?
  • I’m supposed to go “the second mile.” Right?

I’ve recently experienced the necessity to do both: to say enough and to push through. And I believe both decisions were the right ones to make at the time.

Last weekend, for a few reasons, I didn’t get away on my annual writers’ retreat. However, I did deem it a “staycation.” I didn’t clean the church or attend the Sunday service. I didn’t cook for my family and only cleaned the kitchen because I wanted to, not because I expected or required it of myself. I did some writing and reading I wouldn’t have done otherwise and headed out of the house with my laptop to do so out of my day-to-day environment.

I also vegged more than I possibly should have, but all in all, it was a very good weekend. I got some physical rest and some mental rest, which may have been even more important.

This week, however, was different. My hubby generously shared his cold. I spent the day Tuesday down and out, sleeping and binge-watching Netflix. I didn’t have the ambition to do anything else. While I’m still fighting this virus, which has decided to settle in my chest, I was able to put in a full day Wednesday and Thursday and am facing another full day today.

This weekend promises to be a busy one. And although hunkering down for some extra rest sounds like a great idea, I am so very thankful that the Lord is giving me the wherewithal to focus on one task at a time and push through. Because this is not my natural tendency, there is no doubt that He deserves all the glory.

So, how can we tell when it’s right to decline a request and when we should step up?

Here are a few questions we may want to ask ourselves:

  • Have I prayed about it?
  • Will it jeopardize my current responsibilities?
  • Will it be a “one and done” project or will it lead to a long-term commitment?
  • How long will it actually take?
  • Do I know someone else who would enjoy taking on this task?
  • What is my real motivation to say yes?

These are only a few of the questions we could ask ourselves. What are some others that come to mind? (Please scroll down to add your suggestions.)

Tweetables

Know when to say enough and when to push through. (click to tweet)

Will taking on this project jeopardize your current responsibilities? (click to tweet)

Have you prayed about it? (click to tweet)

6 ways to tell when to say enough and when to push through. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Warnings Against Over-Committing (Guest Post)

Warnings Against Over-Committing

by Steph Beth Nickel

Caution tape with text: "Warning: Meltdown Ahead"

Complete edit. Find and train sound room personnel. Recruit someone to clean the church.

These are just three of the things on my To Do list, a list that has to be completed before Thursday, July 20, when my husband and I fly to Jasper on vacation.

God calls us to serve one another, to use our gifts and abilities to honour him and bless our brothers and sisters in Christ. And yet, there are drawbacks to over-committing ourselves.

It has been years since I’ve succumbed to anger and frustration and had a meltdown. (Until God delivered me, it used to be a regular occurrence.) However, that’s exactly what happened this past Thursday evening.

My husband and I are waiting on an individual to do his part before we can do what needs to be done in one certain area of ministry.  Busy with a demanding job and a young family, he doesn’t seem to realize how heavily we’re depending on him.

After meeting with this man, my hubby came home and told me they hadn’t gotten anything done that they’d originally intended—and I lost it. I was absolutely, positively overwhelmed.

Being the mature, spiritual person I am, I immediately took my concerns to the Lord and felt His peace wash over me. Right?

No, not right.

I didn’t want to relinquish my anger and frustration. I wanted to stay mad.

Has this ever happened to you? You want to vent just a little longer.

Thankfully, the Lord wouldn’t let me. Even in the midst of my mini tirade, I came to realize just how frustrating it must be for church leaders who want to further God’s kingdom in their community but don’t have the support of those around them.

A tiny part of me was rejoicing that the Lord was teaching me something even when I seemed quite unteachable.

And yes, eventually I did begin to pray for the individuals whose actions I have no control over. I also made a revised list of what I need to accomplish in the next few days, those things I can do something about. I unclenched my fists and got on with things.

My To Do list wouldn’t be near so long if I hadn’t taken on so many commitments. I once heard a wise teacher say she never took on anything new without prayerfully deciding what she could set aside.

Even after my meltdown, I’m not ready to make this commitment. Still, I must carefully evaluate all I am doing and ask God what, if anything, He wants me to lay aside.

How about you? Are you over-committed? Have you asked the Lord which responsibilities He’s given you and which He’s calling you to set aside—at least for now?

If not, I encourage you to do so. You just may be able to forego the downside of being over-committed.

Tweetables

Seek to avoid over-committing. (Click to tweet)

Warning: meltdown ahead. (Click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

The Importance of Downtime

The Importance of Downtime

by Steph Beth Nickel

I’m filling in for our church administrator while she’s on maternity leave. For 30 hours each week, I can’t work uninterrupted on writing or editing. I can’t tend to my volunteer responsibilities. I can’t work around the house—Wait! Scratch that. That wouldn’t be how I spent the majority of those 30 hours anyway.

Since coming to work at the church mid-February—which, for the most part, I really enjoy, by the way—I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by my To Do list. Granted, the Lord had previously been teaching me how to focus on the Now (this very moment), but until recently, it hadn’t been an undeniable necessity for my mental wellbeing.

MAKE A LIST … AND CHECK IT TWICE

I’ve been a list-maker for as long as I can remember, but these days, I guarantee if I don’t write something down, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to happen. In the past I haven’t cared if I put too much on my list. I would just move it to the next day. But no more! I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish, especially between 3:00 and 11:00/12:00 at night.

It didn’t take me long to realize there was no way I could keep up the frantic pace without paying a high price. In fact, I became short-tempered with friends and family members if they even suggested I take on something else—even something simple. Beyond that, I found myself annoyed for no apparent reason. Not good.

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO TAKE DOWNTIME

Give yourself permission to take downtime. It's indispensable.

Image: Pixabay

Slowly, I began to give myself permission to take time away from my responsibilities to regroup. I would watch a movie with my hubby, play a game of Scrabble (which I won, by the way), even go away for a sisters’ weekend with NO computer access. Woohoo!

And beyond any of that, I was so busy doing good things that I was neglecting the best thing: time with God. I have slowly begun to again study the Word for the exclusive purpose of drawing closer to the Lord. I still need to devote more time to prayer, but that will come.

And while I was driving the two-and-a-half hours to my sister’s, I popped in a couple of new contemporary Christian music worship CDs, refused to watch the clock, and simply worshiped all the way there. It was glorious.

PLAN A GETAWAY

This weekend, my writers’ group, which has been meeting for over a decade, is going on our first ever writers’ retreat. That designation is valid because we are all writers. However, from what I’ve heard from the other ladies, it would be better to call it a writing-reading-crafting-napping-walking on the beach retreat. In other words, we all need downtime. I’m sure we will accomplish a lot of writing, but I don’t think that will be the most important aspect of the weekend.

As some of you know, I am an extrovert—on steroids (figuratively speaking). I have found myself desperately needing uninterrupted alone / quiet time. So not me! I am actually hoping we have a No Chat policy for certain hours of the day while on our retreat. I just want to focus on my reading and my writing. I know if I’m not deliberate about this, I’ll chat far too much.

So how about you? What do you do to get refreshed? [Scroll down to join the conversation.]

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel (Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Guest Post: Are You Taking On Too Much?

Are You Taking On Too Much?

by Steph Beth Nickel

I usually have my post to Janet well ahead of the deadline, but not this month. In fact, I needed a nudge—even though I had a reminder in my day planner. Sometimes that just isn’t enough.

I have recently started covering for our church administrator while she’s on maternity leave. I enjoy the job, but it does leave me scrambling because of the other responsibilities I am also juggling.

This post may very well be a case of “do what I say, not what I do,” but here goes.

Just how can we determine if we should take on any given task? Here are six ways you may want to consider the next time someone asks, “Oh, could you …”

Taking on too much

Pray About It

If you’re a Christian this may seem self-evident, but how many times do we take on something without asking the Lord for wisdom? We can’t do all the things that are asked of us—not even all the good things.

Evaluate the Task

How long will it take? Does it fit naturally into our schedule? Will we have to set aside something that should remain a priority? Will it hinder our ability to fulfill our current tasks effectively? Will it steal the downtime that is crucial to our mental and emotional well-being?

Give Something Up

I once heard a speaker say she never took on a new task without setting aside one she was already doing. Talk about self-control! I can’t see myself doing this—at least not yet.

Remember … No is Not a Bad Word

Some of us have difficulty saying no when we’re asked to do something. We don’t want to let the other person down. We don’t want to miss an opportunity God has for us. This is another key reason we need to pray before we take on a task. God promises to give wisdom to those who ask. Plus, He will give us the ability to graciously decline if that’s what’s necessary. We must remember, too, that it is His responsibility to deal with how the other person responds. We shouldn’t buckle under pressure if we are confident God has not called us to a specific task—at least not at this time.

Consult Your Spouse or a Trusted Friend

If it’s going to put a strain on the relationship with our spouse, it’s likely best to beg off. I have such an easygoing hubby sometimes I don’t think to ask him what he things of such and such a decision. He is always gracious and never makes me feel bad about making up my own mind, but I really should keep him in the loop … and not always after the fact. And whether we’re married or not, a trusted friend can often give us a perspective we can’t see because we’re just too close to the situation.

Finally … Pray Some More

Sometimes we take on something and it’s good for a season, but we just keep doing it even after that season is over. Praying over our schedule regularly is a good habit to get into. As I’ve often said, no matter how much I love my lists, the only To Do list that really matters is the one God has prepared for me. And the only way to discover what’s on that list is to dig into His Word and pray—lots!

So … are you taking on too much? Why not review these pointers and make changes to your To Do list as needed. I just may have to do the same.

Scroll down to the comments form to share your thoughts.

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

What Qualifies Us?

It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.
2 Corinthians 3:5, NLT*

Paul has plenty of educational background and other accomplishments, which he elsewhere refers to as “worthless” in comparison to knowing the grace of God. It’s not that he’s not qualified, but that any credentials, official or unofficial, would not be enough if he didn’t also have the Lord’s anointing on him to do the job.

He’s writing here about his ministry, about sharing the good news of Jesus, and nurturing believers. This is serious Kingdom business.

What about you and me, in the daily details of our lives?

Who you are today, with the background and abilities you have… is there something you need to do that’s generating anxiety? Something that’s too hard, or it’s a stretch, or messing it up could cause problems?

Maybe it’s major, like Paul’s work, or maybe it’s smaller. Nothing is too big or too small for God’s notice.

I have a few minor things hovering around me this week, trying to sap my courage. Objectively, even if every one of them goes wrong, no major harm will be done. For you, the stakes may be higher.

What we need to cling to is this: it’s God who makes the difference. (And it’s God who works with us when we’ve failed, too. He’ll never leave us, and He can work good out of our messes.) He never intended us to do life on our own.

God our Creator and our Equipper, help us repeatedly choose to rely on You. You promise to give wisdom when we ask, so help us to ask and to believe. Give us what we need to conduct ourselves worthy of Your Name, and to carry out our responsibilities competently. Help us to not allow fear to rob us of our peace and to distance us from You, because You are the Provider of all we need.

You Raise Me Up,” sung here by Selah, is one of those songs that can encourage and re-focus us.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Living Worship

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Colossians 3:23, NLT*

When I was in the workforce, I reminded myself of this verse to help my attitude and my conduct. One key is a willing heart – not a grudging, grumbling, bitter one. It’s not about what the management “deserves” – it’s about what our God deserves.

What does God deserve? Worship.

Paul expands on this in his letter to the Romans when he urges them (and us) to “give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1b, NLT)

In all aspects of our lives, as employees, in relationships, volunteering, attending church meetings… in everything. We need to bring willing hearts, open ears, and eyes that are looking for what God might show us.

God isn’t distant, watching and waiting to reward us in the future. He’s present with us in each moment. Part of Brother Lawrence’s way of practising God’s presence was to do each task out of love for God and as an offering to Him.

Could we learn to live like that? We have the rest of our lives to work at it.

Our God, You formed us for worship, and we’re only complete in You. Forgive and change our forgetful, self-indulgent ways, and draw us to live and serve out of love for You… because You loved us first and saved us. Soften our hearts and help us to lift them up to You with each thing we do.

I loved this song from the first time I heard it, and recently God brought it to mind as a way to commit each task and responsibility to Him as worship. I’m praying to remember. Here’s Third Day‘s “Offering.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Perspective from the Other Side of the Hill

Guest post by Steph Beth Nickel

Many of you may not think of 53 as “the other side of the hill,” and I’m not saying that I’m ready to throw a blanket over my legs, take up knitting, and sit in my rocking chair until the Lord calls me home. Far from it!

However, I’m not 20 anymore . . . or 30 or 40. And that’s okay.

And while I do believe we can make the most of the second half of life by eating well, getting adequate physical activity, and refusing to sit back and leave “the real work” to the next generation . . . there comes a time when we must honestly evaluate our priorities.

I would say that mine all have to do with relationship—with God, family and friends, and others who cross my path. But my perspective is changing; my focus is narrowing even further.

As a Christian, I’ve heard it said, “It’s all about Jesus.” I have never agreed more than I do right now.

Just why do I do what I do?

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (ESV)

Yes, I must earn an income.

No, there is nothing wrong with kicking back with my family and watching TV in the evening—depending, of course, on what we choose to watch.

And what about household chores, grocery shopping, and gardening? They all have their place. (Though I did write a blog for a while titled “Confessions of a Horrible Housekeeper,” and I still leave the gardening to my hubby.)

Lately, as I’ve been going about my day-to-day tasks, I’ve realized just how futile the vast majority of our pursuits really are—at least in the light of eternity. I can understand why Solomon said, “Meaningless! Meaningless . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:1 NIV).

If I stop there, I may be tempted to head for that rocking chair. And forget the knitting . . . for that might bless someone.

Remember Ecclesiastes 3:11-13.

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (NIV)

I admit if I focus on the apparent futility of the everyday, I will slip into a funk. In fact, I have been dealing with negativity for a while now.

But if I focus on the passages from 1 Corinthians 10 and Ecclesiastes 3, I am reminded that I must do what I do for God’s glory—even the everyday tasks.

How can we do everyday tasks for the Lord’s glory?

Thank God for another new day even before we get out of bed and think of five things to be thankful for before our feet hit the floor.

Commit each task, no matter how trivial, to the Lord.

Ask for strength to do what we do for His glory and the good of others.

If we’re tempted to let go of those responsibilities that obviously further God’s kingdom, we should prayerfully consider what other obligations and pursuits we can set aside. God’s wisdom is available to help us make the right decisions. (See James 1:5)

And let’s remember . . . it is not wrong to take care of ourselves—by spending quiet time with God each day, eating well, exercising regularly, or decompressing with some alone time or by grabbing a coffee with a friend. After all, we must replenish our resources in order to have something to give.

Six ways to help us do everyday tasks for the Lord's glory.This is my current perspective. Still, I am learning and growing—and trust I will be until the Lord calls me home.

Condemnation vs. Conviction

I want to encourage you with a realization I came to years ago. If we feel condemned, it is not God’s doing. Now, conviction, which is of God, can feel the same at first, but with conviction, He provides a way out.

[Questions or comments for Stephanie? Leave them below!]

Photo of Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Picture by Sarah Grace Photography)

Stephanie is a freelance writer and editor. She writes under the pen name Steph Beth Nickel. She co-authored Paralympian Deborah L. Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. Among other places, it is available from Castle Quay Books and Amazon. Steph has been blogging since 2010 and is a regular guest on Kimberley Payne’s site (fitness tips) and Christian Editing Services (writing tips). She will also be writing and recording regularly for the newly-formed Hope Stream Radio. Stephanie is an active member of The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship


Steph invites you to pop by for a visit on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephbethnickel or https://www.facebook.com/stephbnickel?ref=hl

You can also look her up on Twitter @StephBethNickel; her blog: http://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com; or her website (still a work in progress): http://stephbethnickel.com

When Life Piles Up Around Us

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.
Psalm 57:2, NLT*

In my life, this verse gives me hope. God hasn’t revealed a great purpose for me, like He did for David the shepherd boy to become king. Nonetheless, God has plans for my life—and for yours.

We’re each to live for His glory, and therefore it’s reasonable to pray that He be glorified through our lives and in (or despite) our circumstances.

I have a family. His purpose there? That I love, care for and support them.

A home? That requires care too.

A gift to write? I need to use it God’s way.

When you look at what He’s given you, does it feel overwhelming? Like there’s more to do than time to do it? Sometimes the pressures pile up and threaten an avalanche.

But God will fulfill His purpose despite the opposition—be it Saul’s soldiers chasing David, or my crowded schedule. Like David, I need to trust and pray—and act as led—not to cower, whimper and give up.

God who holds our time in Your hands, give us faith to believe Your promise to never leave us and to fulfill Your purpose for us. Grant us wisdom in how to spend our days and meet our responsibilities. Help us obey Your leading instead of going our own ways. Help us to focus and to serve You in all we do.

Peter Furler’s song, “Greater is He,” is a good encouragement song for those times we feel overwhelmed.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Working with Purpose

That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
Colossians 1:29, NLT*

Paul’s motivation and passion is “to present [everyone] to God, perfect [or ‘mature’] in their relationship to Christ,” and he pours his whole life into it.

It’s different when we don’t have an overriding sense of calling or mission, or if we don’t have a felt purpose or deadline.

I’m in the happy state of being an at-home mom to almost-grown sons. They don’t need a lot of care, although they’d appreciate more home baking.

There’s plenty of housework that needs doing, but… it waits quite patiently. And there’s more writing I’d like to be doing, but… it too waits. As much as deadlines stress me, I often find I get more done when my time is tighter. Daily life (and email) seems to spread to take up all the available time.

I had full-time work from October through December, a repeat of my previous year’s seasonal job. It was a great opportunity that stretched me and demanded more than I had to give. When I told people God sent me back to the same role to re-learn the lessons He’d taught me the first time, I was only half joking.

The task was too big for me. I had to rely on God. That meant getting up early enough to start each day with prayer and a Bible reading. It meant committing the day to Him and depending on His intervention and provision.

There wasn’t much of me left over at the end of each day, but He was enough. And somehow the other details of my personal life (little things like preparing for Christmas) fell into place.

God our Sustainer and the Director of our paths, thank You for demonstrating Your goodness. Help me—help us all—to view each day as the assignment You have for us, however simple or complex. Help us to anchor ourselves in You and to work diligently, relying on the power of Christ in us. Nourish us daily from Your Word and Your presence. When things come up that aren’t on our agendas, give us discernment to know if they’re redeployments to obey or distractions to ignore. Help us do all to Your glory, with willing hearts.

Geoff Moore’s song, “Your Day,” is a good one to start each morning.  (Click to listen to Your Day at Last.fm)

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

Six inspirational links plus a fitness bonus

Stop by Devotional Christian for daily devotionals from Our Daily Bread, Max Lucado, My Utmost for His Highest, Charles Spurgeon, The High Calling and more.

I’ve been enjoying Duane Scott’s Scribing the Journey, especially his post on “Dreaming With a Troubled Heart“.

Flickers of a Faithful Firefly shares beautiful photos and inspirational thoughts. I especially appreciated her post, “Cultivating Stillness“.

I’ve mentioned Free2Soar before. This blog has become one of my favourites, with its short, poetic insights into faith and relationships.

Ever feel overwhelmed with your tasks and responsibilities? I do. Check out Susan Stewart’s post, “Psalm 23 – according to me“, at Whatever He Says.

Kimberley Payne offers a free monthly electronic Fitness & Faith Matters newsletter..

Deskbound? Here’s a 10-minute video on Staying Fit While Sitting All Day.