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 …”
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.
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.
Nice post, Steph. I’m naturally a people pleaser and, as a young woman, felt guilt when saying “no” to invitations to serve. I learned then about false guilt, realizing over time that my saying “yes” was because I was flattered by someone’s belief in me, and that there was an element of hubris in this–after all, I was agreeing to do what “no one else could do”! But, I came to understand, God doesn’t actually “need” me–He has vast resources at hand. Just because someone feels I’m the woman for the job doesn’t mean that’s God’s plan for me. Today I use this measure in deciding if I will take on another job: I ask, “Can I do this with JOY?” It’s a great filter for me because it weeds out potential tasks that could become time-consuming drudgery, it frees me up to take on what I am good at, and it forces me to adjust my attitude about doing jobs that I actually MUST do.
Good measuring question, Deb. And I love how it requires adjustments of our attitudes for those tasks we don’t have a choice about. Choose to do it with joy. I find that easier when I remember that whatever I’m doing, I’m to do it out of love for God. But I often need reminding.
Nicely said, Deb. I can relate to much of what you wrote. Blessings!
Wise words as always, Steph! Funny, my husband and I were talking yesterday (before seeing this) about how everything piles up. I can’t remember who it is, but I heard someone suggest the idea of quitting everything (every so often) and then taking a quiet, prayerful time to recover and to choose which roles to take up again. I think your suggestion of divesting ourselves of one thing before taking on one thing would be a lot easier!
Quitting everything for a time … Wow! That would take some doing. (Thanks again for inviting me to share with your readers. Blessings, my friend.)
Thanks for this, Steph–this is something that I needed to review right now, and it was good to hear it from someone else’s perspective. I appreciate that your steps are faith-based and logical. I like the way you have put prayer as the first and last step in this decision-making process. I do know this, but sometimes I just need that extra encouragement to not get involved in too many things that other people would like me to do. Listening closely to God is my one big goal this year.
We all need this, Sharon! I’m glad Stephanie reminded us!
“Listening closely to God” … What a great goal, Sharon! It ties in to my theme for the year. I believe 2016 is to be my personal Year of Outward Focus, which includes more listening than talking … a very big deal for me. Bless you,Sharon, and thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on this post.