A friend asked me, “Can you take me to the airport?”
It seemed like a harmless request. I calculate in my mind, It takes 15-20 minutes to get there. I should calculate 45 minutes total for the whole trip. I have a long day of work ahead of me, a dinner engagement tonight, a full day of work tomorrow, and family coming in town this weekend.
I reply, “Sure! What time?”
Then comes the dreaded words, “I leave pretty early. I need to be at the airport by 5am. Can you still take me?” This situation has happened to me on multiple occasions. I can respond in two ways: First, I can tell them “No” and take back my word given the circumstances of the request. Second, I can stay true to my commitment of “Yes” and sacrifice some sleep for a friend.
Making an early morning run to the airport is not a big time sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. My concern, however, is not with the request or the sacrifice but the eager “Yes” to countless requests in my life. Two primary reasons I (and perhaps others) say “Yes” when the answer should be “No”:
First, I say “Yes” because I do not want to disappoint others. I don’t want others to see me as selfish or as a scrooge concerned only for myself. So, I say “Yes” because that will make others happy (at least that person). In my attempts at pleasing everyone, I end up pleasing very few of them. When I say “Yes” out of fear of disappointing a few, the result is that I often disappoint many others around me. By my countless “Yes” statements to good things and good friends, I can also neglect the people (wife, small group, college ministry) and responsibilities (work, ministry at church, etc.). I no longer have mental or physical energy to invest in their lives, listen with care, or enjoy time together for the sake of togetherness.
Second, I have an inflated view of myself. I think to myself, “Who is going to take Fred (not the friend’s name) to the airport? If not me, then who? He is going to miss his flight unless I take him! Therefore, I must do it!” In a world full of inventions, ingenuity, and interconnectedness I somehow believe that I am the sole source of provision for this person. That I am the only person in their contact list, their only friend, their only friend with a car, the only one that knows how to get to the airport, etc. I could change out taking a friend to the airport with countless other circumstances and commitments. Within the church, this inflated view of oneself is minimized and accepted as being sacrificial for the sake of others. At times, this may be true. However, I (and I fear others) may be denying the opportunity and privilege of others to serve, care, and sacrifice for others. The body of Christ is comprised of many parts, not just me (see, 1 Corinthians 12)! We each need one another. No member is more important than the other.
It is time for me (and many other believers) to say “No” to the countless “Yes” statements in my life. The extreme is non-commitment but I fear that our struggle (at least mine) is over-commitment. Rather than viewing yourself as a god — solely sufficient to fulfill everyone’ needs — see yourself as God sees you — a beloved child who will return to dust and be raised up to live with Him forever.