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  • Adam Schell

Yes or No

A couple of years ago, Netflix released a movie called “Yes Day.” And in case you haven’t seen it, this movie is about Allison and Carlos Torres and their three kids: Katie, Nando, and Ellie. Now, when Allison and Carlos first met, they were an adventurous couple that said yes to just about everything. But, once they had kids, they turned into the stereotypical strict parents who almost always told their kids “No” because they wanted to protect them. But, unsurprisingly, this doesn’t go over real well with the Torres children. 

And when Allison and Carlos show up at a parent-teacher conference they find out that their kids think they’re dictators. And that’s when the school guidance counselor offers them a little, well, guidance. He suggests that the Torres family have a “Yes Day” from time to time. But what exactly is a “Yes Day?” It’s one day where the parents have to say “yes” to anything their kids ask them to do as long as they don’t ask to do anything that’s illegal or could hurt themselves or someone else.

Now, I want you to take a minute and think about what you would’ve asked your parents to do if they had given you a “Yes Day” when you were a kid. Maybe you would’ve asked your parents if you could have candy for breakfast. Maybe you would’ve asked to go watch an R-rated movie. Maybe you would’ve asked to pick out anything you wanted from a toy store.

Well, the Torres children start their “Yes Day” with the youngest child, Ellie, asking her parents to wear whatever clothes she picks out for them. And, of course, that means that the dad ends up wearing face paint and a cape while rocking a mohawk, and the mom ends up wearing a pink tutu and has more ribbon in her hair than I had under my Christmas tree last year. 

Then the kids drag their parents off to an ice cream parlor to take on an eating challenge. The family orders a $40 sundae that’s free if they manage to eat it all in under 30 minutes — which the Torres’ actually do. To clean up afterwards the kids ask to go through a car wash…with the windows down. And that’s where I would’ve drawn the line, but I also just got a new car a couple of months ago that I don’t want to ruin anytime soon. From there, the Torres’ have a water balloon fight with balloons that are filled with Kool-Aid. They go to an amusement park and a concert. And the kids end up throwing a giant party at their house.

So the Torres family’s “Yes Day” is everything you’d expect it to be. It's chaotic. It's messy. But it's also a whole lot of fun. But as fun as their “Yes Day” may have seemed, the point of this movie isn’t to convince parents everywhere to stop telling their kids “no.” The point of this movie isn’t to persuade parents to say “yes” to everything their kids ask to do. The point of this movie is to help us all realize that there are times when we need to say “yes” but there are also times when we need to say “no.”

Now, obviously, if you’re a parent then you have had plenty of practice saying “no.” I even remember one Sunday several years ago when my daughter was still going to the nursery here at church. Well, when the service wrapped up and Ashley and I headed back to pick her up the person volunteering in the nursery told us that she felt bad because she had to tell the pastor’s daughter “no.” And I looked her square in the eye and told her, “Don’t feel bad about telling her ‘no.’ She’s two years old, so there are some days that the only thing I say to her is ‘no.’” And that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not much of one. 

So as parents, we’re used to telling our kids “no.” But a lot of us have a tough time saying “no” to anyone else. So when your boss asks you to come in early or to stay late, you say “yes.” When your kid's school asks if you can help chaperone a field trip, you say “yes.” When a telemarketer calls asking if you’d like to refinance your student loans, you seriously consider it even though you never took out a student loan.

And the more you say “yes” the busier your life gets. The more you say “yes” the quicker your calendar fills up. The more you say “yes” the more likely you are to feel overbooked.

And just about all of us feel like our lives are overbooked.

Just about all of us feel like our lives are overbooked.

And we talked about this last week, but it’s worth repeating today, constantly being overbooked takes a toll on our lives. Prolonged busyness leads to chronic stress which has been linked to some serious health issues – like anxiety, depression, and heart disease. Being overbooked has also been shown to reduce our cognitive performance. And being consistently busy also leads to a deterioration in the quality of our personal relationships.

So something’s got to give. There has to be a way for us to stop trying to cram so much into our lives. Well, that’s what we’ve been talking about here at Melbourne Heights over the last few weeks. We’ve been working our way through a series of sermons called “Overbooked.” And throughout this series, we’re trying to help you find ways to slow down and clear your calendar so you have time for what really matters the most in your life.

And if part of the reason why our lives get so busy, if part of the reason why we feel overbooked, is because we struggle to say “no” to anyone besides our kids then we need to learn how to say “no.” Or to put it another way for you, if we don’t want to be so busy, we have to set boundaries.

If we don’t want to be so busy, we have to set boundaries.

And we see a great example of setting boundaries in the scripture passage I want us to take a closer look at today. So if you’ve got a Bible close by or a Bible app on your phone go ahead and open it to Acts 6. Acts 6. And, as you’re finding it, let me tell you a little more about the book of Acts.

The book of Acts is found in the New Testament in the Bible and there are basically two types of books in the New Testament. You have books that tell you the good news of Jesus, and then you have books that tell you how our faith grew and spread after Jesus’ crucifixion and his resurrection. And the book of Acts is the second kind of book. The book of Acts is kind of like a history book that tells us how our faith in Jesus grew and spread in the first couple of decades after his crucifixion and his resurrection. 

And in Acts 6, we reach a pretty big turning point when it comes to our faith. You see, in the first five chapters of the book of Acts, our faith has been growing rapidly. In Acts 1:41, we’re told that on one single day more than 3,000 people committed their lives to follow Jesus. In Acts 1:47, we’re told “The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.”

And, since our faith was growing, it meant that more people needed to be ministered to and served. But in Acts 6, we’re going to find out that some people were falling through the cracks. So let’s take a look at Acts 6:1, and I’ll show you what I mean. Acts 6:1, here’s what it says:

1 About that time, while the number of disciples continued to increase, a complaint arose. Greek-speaking disciples accused the Aramaic-speaking disciples because their widows were being overlooked in the daily food service. 2 The Twelve called a meeting of all the disciples…

Acts 6:1-2a (Common English Bible)

So, as the early church was growing, the leaders of the early church – who were Jesus’ first followers, his twelve disciples – were trying to make sure that people in need in the early church were being taken care of. But some of the people were being overlooked.

And, clearly, no one wanted that to happen. They wanted to make sure that everyone was being cared for. So the twelve disciples call a meeting of what the book of Acts calls “all the disciples,” which means everyone who was a part of the church because everyone who follows Jesus is a disciple.

And like I said a minute ago, this meeting is going to be a turning point for our faith. Because in this meeting the twelve disciples could’ve done what a lot of us would do in this situation. In this meeting, the twelve disciples could’ve said, “If you want to do something right you have to do it yourself.” And they could’ve decided that they were going to take over the daily distribution of food.

But, if the twelve disciples decided to take over the daily distribution of food, that would’ve been the only thing they had the time to do. The church had grown so quickly and there were so many people in need, that the disciples would’ve spent all day serving food and bussing tables.

But that’s not what they did. Instead, as we pick back up in Acts 6:2, we’re told:

2 The Twelve called a meeting of all the disciples and said, “It isn’t right for us to set aside proclamation of God’s word in order to serve tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. 4 As for us, we will devote ourselves to prayer and the service of proclaiming the word.”

Acts 6:1-4 (Common English Bible)

So in this meeting, the twelve disciples essentially tell the entire church, “Listen, y’all. As your leaders, we have limited time. So if you need us to take over the daily distribution of food, we can do that…but we’re not going to have time to do anything else. 

“And that doesn’t seem right to us because even though the church is growing by leaps and bounds right now, there are plenty of people out there who need to hear the good news of Jesus. And since we knew Jesus personally, since we spent three years of our lives following him and learning from him, and since Jesus called us to go out and tell other people about him, we’re the best people to go out and share that good news. So that’s how we need to spend our time.

“So we’re going to draw a boundary here. We’re going to tell you that we need to be the ones going out telling other people about Jesus, so you have to find other people who can oversee the daily distribution of food. Because it’s important for us to take care of those in need in our community. And we’ve got people that are part of the church right now that can do it.

“So let’s find the right people to do this job so that we can do what Jesus called us to do.”

And that’s exactly what the early church did. Instead of demanding that the twelve disciples do everything, they chose a small group of people from among themselves to oversee the daily distribution of food. And that’s how the role of deacon in the church was created, the word deacon literally refers to table servants.

But this story didn’t change the history of our faith just because it created the role of deacons. This story forever changed our faith because if the early church had gone the other direction if they told the twelve disciples that they had to be the ones to oversee the distribution of food, then the good news of Jesus would’ve died with them. The disciples would’ve been so busy making sure everyone got fed that they wouldn’t have had time to share the good news with anyone else. And that means that you and I wouldn’t be here in church today, we would’ve never heard about Jesus.

But the twelve disciples set boundaries. They knew they only had so much time, so there were only so many things they could do, and they wanted to make sure they used their time on the right things.

And that’s why we need to learn to set boundaries too. We only have so much time, so there is only so much we can do, so we need to make sure we use our time on the right things.

But that’s hard for a lot of us to admit. It’s hard to admit that we only have so much time and that we can only do so many things. Instead, we believe the same thing that the college student we talked about a couple of weeks ago believed. We believe that no matter how full our lives seem, we can always fit more in.

But it’s just not true. So instead of always trying to fit one more thing into our lives, we need to learn to set boundaries, we need to learn to say no. Because when we learn to say no it frees us up to say yes to the things that really matter.

And that’s what boundaries are really about. Setting up boundaries isn’t about having to say “no” to keep your schedule clear. Setting boundaries is about saying “yes” to the things you really want to do.

Setting boundaries is about saying “yes” to the things you really want to do.

So let me ask you a question, what are the things you really want to do? Do you want to be able to sit down to dinner with your spouse and kids a couple of times each week instead of always running through the drive-through? Do you want to be able to go on a long vacation, or to at least unplug from work when you get home at night? Do you want to be there to watch your grandkids play soccer, or to be at church more often?

Now, as you’re thinking about what you really want to do, let me ask you: What do you need to say “no” to in your life right now so that you can say “yes” to the things you really want to do?

If you want to sit down to dinner with your spouse and kids more often, then you might have to say “no” when your kids want to join another club or sports team. If you want to be able to unplug from work when you’re at home, you may have to say “no” to going out to lunch with your co-workers so you can get more done at the office. If you want to make it to church more often, you might have to say “no” to late nights on Saturdays so you can get out of bed a little easier on Sunday mornings.

But until you learn to say “no” and set boundaries your life is never going to be what you want it to be. Until you learn to say “no” and set boundaries you’ll always end up overbooked. So spend some time thinking about what you want to say yes to and what you need to say no to. Because there are only so many things you can say yes to…so make your yeses count.

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