My husband is notoriously indecisive.
He used to serve on the board of Universities’ Model Parliament. Every couple of months they’d meet at a local eatery where the business of the meeting remained off the table until the group had placed their order.
He’d always be the last to order, left staring awkwardly at the menu while the server politely (or not so politely) suggested a couple of options. A chorus of sighs would ring out as he’d reluctantly announce his choice. It’s a scene I’m familiar with. Our first date looked remarkably similar, just without the minutes.
By the third or fourth board meeting my husband’s colleagues unanimously decided to order for him. He’d tell everyone the lunch items he was considering and they’d put it to a vote. The system worked extremely well.
This story recently came up when we were discussing a sermon by Rob Bell on Jesus’ parable about the wide and narrow roads in Matthew 7. From Bell’s view, the point of the story is that if we aren’t intentional about the direction of our lives we’ll look up one day and realize we’ve followed the crowd and ended up far from where we’d unknowingly hoped. It’s kind of like my husband at the restaurant—if we can’t make a decision on our own, it’ll be made for us by default. What’s worse, we probably won’t even notice.
We live in an age of distraction. There are hundreds of voices demanding some small slice of our attention every day. Bogged down in this morass of media, it becomes nearly impossible to filter out enough of the noise to make a real decision.
We’ve got a sticky note in our home office that reads: “every yes entails 1,000 no’s.” Nearby, I’ve scribbled the quote: “If you want to reach your goal don’t scatter your shots.” I’m learning that being intentional is difficult but fundamental and that I can’t do everything I’d like to. There isn’t enough of me to be everywhere at once. I can only have deep relationships with so many friends, I can only really invest in a couple of projects at a time. I’ve discovered that when I say yes to something really important, it means saying no to dozens of other very good things. And it turns out that sometimes, that’s what wisdom looks like.
What are the things you find hard to say no to? Do they get in the way of the things to which you truly feel called?