Time to Say No
For those of you who aren’t among the
five regular readers of this space, let me explain my strategy for A Bodey in Motion.
On Mondays (and other days when I get a wild hair) I try to stick to stuff related to my personal life. Sometimes it will be about a trip or an event that I just got back from. Other times, I’ll write out an issue I’ve been working through. Work and money topics tend to take a priority, because that’s where my head has been lately, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.
On Thursdays I try to quickly hit five(ish) things that got my attention in the last week or so. I do that for a lot of different reasons. Maybe I’m using a hit as a place-holder, so I can find the link again later. Or I might want to briefly touch on a topic that doesn’t quite fit in the fairly loose theme here (like drug legalization, or weird Barbie stuff). Finally, I might be using it as an introduction to a thought that I know I’ll be getting into later, which is where we are today.
A few weeks back I wrote this:
Time is precious. Almost any other resource we have can be renewed, but time, for each of us, is finite. We all want more time to do the things we consider important, but we eventually come to the harsh reality that 168 hours a week just isn’t enough to do it all. So, managing our time becomes crucial, just like we have to budget our money. We have to be ready to make sacrifices.
We have to be willing to say “No” to some of the good opportunities that come our way, so we have the freedom to say “Yes” to the great ones later. Which means we also have to be willing to quit and walk away.
I’ve been doing volunteer financial coaching at a local church since the beginning of this year. Overall, it’s been a very rewarding experience. I’ve been able to help several families find hope in their money problems, and begin to work their way out of the hole that they’ve put themselves in. There isn’t much better than that. I hope that I don’t have to walk away from it any time soon.
It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, though.
For example, I got to meet with a couple that were living the classic American broke lifestyle. More debt than they should have had. Trying to take care of everything at once with their money, and doing none of it well. No financial goals, and no financial plan. A calamity away from financial disaster.
One of them recognized there was trouble ahead, but couldn’t grasp why. She hoped that I might be able to show them where the troubles were and help them form a plan to avoid them.
The issue was that he didn’t see any troubles at all. He didn’t even want to be there. Everything I said, he had an answer for. They weren’t good answers, but they were good enough for him. His way of handling the money was right, and there was no telling him otherwise.
I could see the beginnings of long-term marital stress there. Trust had already been a casualty, and blame was being tossed about. I could see the distance between the two of them grow as we talked. Divorce wasn’t a certainty, but it was a definite possibility.
After going through everything that they had brought to the table and touching on every financial issue, I struggled to try to get them to agree on something, anything, financially so they could move forward with coaching. I wanted to help them, but every door I opened was a fight. Still, I wasn’t going to give up that easily. If I could convince them to try a couple of things and come back for one more session, I might be able to make some headway.
Then a voice cut through my self-delusion. A memory from when I was went out to Nashville last Summer. The booming voice of Chris Hogan speaking these five words:
“Some people can’t be coached.”
And I knew that I had to tell them no. I had to quit. They weren’t ready for me to help them, and it would have been a waste of my time to try to keep working with them. Especially if that kept me from working with someone else who was ready.
Now, I’ve tried to learn what I could from the meeting (and there has been plenty), and I’ve prayed for them several times since then. I hope that they will learn to work together and walk together in their marriage. I hope that they start honoring God with their money. I hope that the next time I’m faced with a similar situation, I will see it clearly right away. I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time.
Have you ever said yes to a commitment that kept you from doing something better? What are you struggling with right now that you should consider quitting?
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