Luke 5: 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
My wife and I have always been sports nuts, and our kids all excelled in various sports competitively including our youngest daughter. Emilie didn’t take up serious competitive soccer until fairly late, when she was about 15, but decided she wanted a college soccer scholarship. Many reading this would laugh as they’d suggest it was about 8 years too late to pursue that dream but she had played some soccer in school, she was gifted athletically, and was determined. Within a short period of time she made one of the top travelling teams in the U.S. (we would drive and fly down from Canada to join the team at showcase tournaments). She was doing well and after a few tournaments, she and a handful of others on the team were shown interest by a D1 school. At the next tournament, she went hard after the ball and did some damage to her knee. She came off the field knowing something was wrong, but the coach derided her saying you need to play through injuries if you are going to make it in college. Being an incredibly hard worker, and the last to pack it in, she went out again only to go down hard – she had torn her ACL. A year later when trying to return to soccer, she tore her other ACL and the soccer dream ended.
I remember the day she went back on the field, and I so wish I had run around to the other side of the field and had said “NO!”. Emilie herself wishes she had said no. While it was extremely poor coaching, as a parent I learned over the years that you are ultimately the “general manager” of your children when it comes to their health. You are the one who is looking out for their future when they are a 30 or 40-year-old mother. A heard a business mentor once say that “no” is the most valuable word you will ever learn in business. Learn to use that word, and you can have a successful business. I believe it is the same in sports and in life. To lead a successful life, you must gain the wisdom to know when to say no.
Some people have this strange image of Jesus being a “nice guy”. Walking around saying yes to everyone and every situation. Do a quick study of your Bible and search for how often Jesus left places and situations. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) There were throngs of people around begging to be healed, begging for his help. He “often” turned his back on them and left. How callous is that? Some people might be reading this and saying, no that can’t be true. Why would he do that? It’s simple – he was human. That’s right, while Jesus was fully God, he was also fully man when he walked on this earth. He grew hungry, he grew tired, he needed replenishment. Jesus modeled out something very important for his disciples (and us today) – there are times to say no. I read a great article in Christianity.com entitled “The Courage to Say No.”, by Paul Coughlin. In it he challenges those who have difficulty saying no. “They also have the wrong image of themselves, the most notable being that they’re “really nice people,” which, they’ve been told, is the pinnacle of Christian virtue. They have a false image of God in human form. Despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, they still contend that Jesus did not quarrel, disagree, speak bluntly, create firm boundaries, or otherwise disrupt the world around him.” Learn to recognize that there are many “good things” to be done, but only a selection of “God things” for you to do. Learn to hear from God what those are (Ephesians 2:10). Be courageous! Use the word “no”.