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Life Teaches The Best Lessons

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
– Psalm 1:1

Sometimes No is Necessary

By Farris Long

I sat across the table one day from a gentleman who I consider to be a mentor of sorts to me in the business world. Many of the things I aspire to do, he has already done many times over. His name is Anthony Butler, the President of the E3 Business Group. He asked me a number of questions about all the things that were going on in my professional life. I began to tell him about all of the exciting opportunities that had been presented to me on all fronts- motivational speaking engagements, television and radio appearances, graphic design and printing, and my new shirt line (P.I.M.P- Prayer Is My Priority). He smiled back at me, congratulated me, and then spoke some of the most penetrating words that could be uttered in that moment. “Farris, great things are happening in your life. Keep going but now, you have to be careful of overload. As the world becomes more and more aware that you are multi-talented, more and more opportunities will be brought to your door and laid at your feet. The problem is that it does no good to have all of these abilities but limited effectiveness because you are overloaded. From here on out you must choose wisely.” His timely words resonated in my heart like Reveille at sunrise.

A woman stood in her kitchen one day preparing a big meal for a dinner party. She labored for hours cutting sweet potatoes, preparing pie crusts, seasoning cabbage, squeezing lemonade, and brewing tea. Before she knew it, the time had come and the guests began to arrive. Everyone commented on how delectable the cabbage looked and how wonderful the yams smelled. They looked forward to her delicious lemonade and southern sweet tea. But something was missing. That was all that was on the table. She had neglected to prepare the salmon and rice main dish that she was so famous for. Her dinner party went terribly wrong because she had made a fatal error. She had given so much attention to the sides that she missed the main course.

How many of us spend so much time on the “side items” of life that we miss the main thing(s) that we are here for? Too often we let feelings of guilt and obligation be the driving force that makes us drain ourself trying to be the rescuer to our family. Sometimes they need to experience consequences. If we always bail them out, they never learn how to avoid the situation in the future. In the work force, workers become burnt out because they fear they will lose their job if they do not take on all the other “extra” work the supervisor puts on their plate. I am not advising anyone to be belligerent or disrespectful. But there is a point where you can not be effective at your primary job because you are busy doing all the other stuff. I have always been told that people give more work to those they trust can get the job done. That is fine but there is a tipping point where one person can no longer run back and forth trying to keep all the plates spinning. It is inevitable that sooner or later plates will begin to crash and break.

I don’t believe we are completely oblivious when this is happening to us. I believe there is an internal alarm that subtly goes off that tells us that our lives are off course. Too often, the fear of people’s opinions and our unhealthy desire for acceptance rings louder in our ears than our internal alarm. And because of this, we continue to wander aimlessly through life along a path that others have created for us. The key to overcoming this is to learn a simple principle. “Sometimes no is necessary.”

How many bad relationships might we have avoided if we had kept this principle in mind? “Sometimes No is necessary.” How much frustration could we have avoided if we stopped trying to make up for previous mistakes with our kids and realize that, “Sometimes NO is still necessary”? How much money could we have in the bank right now if, instead of buying frivolous items we remembered that “Sometimes, no is necessary.” A new year is right around the corner. We can not continue to do the same things and expect different results. If we are going to win at this thing called life, we can never forget that for every yes, “SOMETIMES NO IS NECESSARY.”

 For more from Farris Long