We ordered drinks and sat down in a cozy (not so quiet but it will do) corner.
This is how most good things start, sharing something as simple as coffee, looking for something as extraordinary as friendship.
A friend and I met up to connect on life, leadership, and ministry.
As we chatted I realized that I have been modifying some leadership rules about setting boundaries in my professional and ministerial life.
People who have a drive to achieve, maximize, move forward, complete a mission, live out a call are often those who are called on often to help others. We are doers. We are implementers. We are creators. We like new projects. We are helpers.
Which, in turn, causes some inner turmoil because there aren't enough hours in the day to get all that needs to be accomplished plus everyone else's "needs to be accomplished" and care for your self, your soul, your family, your pets.
I guess it's why we don't have any pets.
It's why setting boundaries are important and starting with what matter's most. There's not a magical balance that we can achieve if we work hard enough at it. But there is a better balance.
Let me explain.
Sometimes we tell a story so long and so often that we start believing it.
Boundaries are vital and learning to say "no" is important. But because I can be like a toddler learning a new word, I wanted to use it often and with confidence.
So, I did. And I got better at it and it didn't cause me to flinch anymore. It was normal to say no.
I had great boundaries, but I feel that I had become less approachable and available. I had begun to glorify being busy. It wasn't long before I was tired living within impenetrable boundaries.
It saddened me that I had become this way. And there's something really basic about saying yes that allows for us to live more passionately, more lovingly.
Last summer I read a remarkable book called "Love Does". The echo was there again. It's so much fun to say yes and why not! Bob (the author) is a great example of what this can look like. I want to be more HERE--let's throw off some of the entanglements that keep me from doing it.
For me, it was a timely invitation to break the rules.
It starts with my emails. If there's something in my inbox that can be taken care of or responded to in two minutes or less, then I take care of it, right then. I don't save it in a folder or leave it sitting to die in a pile of others. I respond. I learned to become more accessible in my inbox. And it didn't hurt much at all.
I wondered what it would be like if I tried this in real life.
For every person walking by my office, for my children asking for a moment of my time, for my husband, or our neighbors, for strangers and people I brush past in public places. If I can help, I will do my best to help. To say yes.
Most of the time, it really only takes a few minutes to help someone out.
If I can't say yes, I'll try to get them to someone who can say yes or give time on a day more appropriate. It's changing my perspective on the phrase "living sacrifice".
The secret: for every small kindness, for every yes to bless, we gain a deeper mutual love for each other. And in this deeper mutual love is a deeper understanding for you and for me during those times when we know that we need to say no.