The Less-Stressed Life



The playwright Jules Renard wrote, “The only man who is really free

is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving

any excuse.”

 By that definition, are you free? Few of us are because

we feel guilty when we draw boundaries with people in order to focus

on what’s important. That’s a problem. It will be impossible to

maintain your priorities and experience margin in your schedule until

you get comfortable saying a simple word: no. No excuses, no

rainchecks, no babbling about when you might be able to fit it in—just

plain no.

Why do we find that so hard as Christians? Why is it so

difficult to say no? Probably because on some level we feel that God

has called us to be sweet and humble. And we think that sweet,

humble people don’t deny requests for help and definitely don’t turn

down invitations to dinner. If this is your struggle, I can’t help but

point you toward the example of Christ. Yes, He did spend a lot of His

time ministering to people—healing the sick, teaching in the

synagogues, and sharing the gospel with prostitutes and tax collectors.

Yes, He did the ministry thing, and He did it quite well, but He also

said no to ministry on occasion.

Take the last supper, for instance. On the night before He was

to leave this world, we see Jesus spending time with His disciples. He

had only a little time left—just a few hours in which to heal the sick,

raise the dead, and do ministry—but He didn’t spend His final

moments that way. He said no to that aspect of His work with people

because He knew it was important for Him to be with His disciples at

that time. There were also times when Jesus would withdraw from

even the twelve disciples just to spend time alone praying, reflecting,

and even enjoying nature. In those moments, Jesus was saying no to all

the other opportunites He had so He could step back and smell the


Jesus was willing to say no in order to create some margin in

His life. Are you? Are you willing to, perhaps, disappoint people when

you say no so that you can keep the main thing the main thing?

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