“What you are doing is not good.
You and these people who come to you
will only wear yourselves out.
The work is too heavy for you;
you cannot handle it alone.”
Exodus 18:17−18 (NIV)
Setting boundaries and asking for help are the hardest lessons I have had to learn. Here is the secret when someone asks you to do something or to make a long term commitment: Say, “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.” Never say, “Yes,” out of obligation. Never say, “Yes,” out of guilt. Take time to think about what you honestly can and can’t handle before giving an answer.
Over the years I have volunteered at my church for different ministries. Serving in ministry is good. It is important to pray and seek guidance. Once when I was very sick with depression, I didn’t know how to say, “No.” On one occasion I agreed to teach Bible lessons for our Vacation Bible School program. Knowing they were short-staffed, I said, “Yes,” out of guilt. After decorating, I taught a room full of kindergarteners for five evenings during the hottest week of June. Although it was successful, I crashed the following week. I took on more than I could handle. I should have asked for help or declined. Saying, “No,” doesn’t mean you won’t have another opportunity down the road when you are better able to make the commitment.
When you have time to think and pray about a commitment, consider if it is something your heart desires and won’t wear you out or cause stress in the process. Later, simply reply what is in your best interest, a simple “Yes” or “No,” is sufficient. If you feel you must explain, keep it short, but stick with your answer. Don’t be pressured. It just isn’t healthy to do more than we can handle.
There are times we become overloaded with regular activities that are beyond our control. Ask for help! Just as Jethro suggested to Moses, sometimes a task is too big for one person. We will ware ourselves out. I’m not saying we shouldn’t push or challenge ourselves to make commitments. I am saying if you are overwhelmed with something that must be done, ask for help! Don’t let guilt or pride hold you back. Although we sometimes don’t like to admit it, we all have limitations. Learn what those limitations are. Don’t max yourself out. Keep your mind and body safe. Learn to set boundaries and ask for help. In this way we will better serve God, others and ourselves.
Give me the strength to carry out what You have planned for me today. Empower me to say “no,” or ask for help when I need to. Help me to be ok with setting boundaries and rid myself of any guilt. Let me hear Your guidance and equip me to carry out Your will. Help me to serve in the way that would please You.
In Jesus’ name, I ask,