9 Words to Add to Your Vocabulary Starting Today

Margaret —  August 8, 2014 — 33 Comments

Let me introduce you to my friend, Kara. Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Recently named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women shaping culture and the church, Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith, Can I Ask That?, and Deep Justice Journeys.

This fall, I've invited friends around the sticky barn door table to share what God is teaching them. My hope and prayer is that their words are a blessing and encouragement to you.

9 Words to Add to Your Vocabulary Starting Today

by Kara Powell

Snorkel equipment. Check.

Books for the airplane. Yup.

Exhaustion and a sense of being overwhelmed. In spades. 

So went my packing list for our family vacation at the start of this summer. Fatigue and a sense of overcommitment weren’t on my list, but they were so embedded in the weeks leading up to our trip that they snuck into my luggage uninvited.

Busyness has always been a struggle for me.

But as my children are becoming teenagers, their sports and school schedules race ahead faster, leaving me breathlessly sprinting to catch up.

So I started my vacation with this simple prayer: Lord, I have become too busy. During this vacation, please show me the pace you want me to walk and the changes I need to make to stay in sync with that pace.

Topping the long list of reasons I wanted to slow down was a glaring finding that emerged from research we conducted for our new book, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. As we interviewed parents who are effectively instilling lasting faith in their kids, we quickly realized one of their clearest and simplest common practices: They spend time together. In the midst of Chemistry and carpools, they carve out time for family conversation over coffee or casseroles. They fight for those windows when all the cars are nestled in the driveway, smartphones are tucked away in backpacks and purses, and parents and children can simply be together. Without agenda. Enjoying each other.

If I wanted to live out this highlight of our research, something needed to change.

Over vacation, the Lord showed me what needed to change through a nine-word phrase in a book I had tossed in my suitcase. Nine words that have become my new mantra—both personally and professionally. Nine words that are guiding our team at the Fuller Youth Institute as we prayerfully determine priorities for the fall and beyond:

“If it’s not a definite yes, it’s a no.”*

Greg McKeown

Before my vacation, I spent at least twenty percent of my time on family and ministry projects that were good. But perhaps not great. They were “maybe yes” time-consumers, not “definite yes” priorities.

These “maybe yes” activities sucked my valuable time and energy, leaving me depleted and unable to be the mom, wife, and follower of Jesus I want to be. I’m now two months into a six-month commitment to pursue only options that are a “definite yes.”

So I’ve said “no” to…

…being a room parent for my daughter’s class (I already volunteer in Art Room and Library).

…taking on extra Girl Scout leadership responsibilities (I already have a leadership role in the troop that fits me).

…travel that wasn’t of utmost priority (I can accomplish 80% of what I would have hopping on an airplane by using the phone and staying home).

I’ve said a “definite yes” to…

…early morning times with the Lord.

…my son’s plea to play cards.

…the partnerships at work that are most crucial to our mission.

It’s not easy. Sometimes competing priorities require more discernment than a quick yes or no. I am often still harried in the hour before dinner as I transition from juggling email and grant proposals to juggling basketball and barbecue sandwiches. But at least deep down I know I'm saying “yes” at the right time and to the right priorities.

*Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 103.


sticky-faithThis week, were giving away 3 copies of The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell.

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family addresses one of the top current concerns about youth and the church: the reality that nearly half of all young people raised in Christian families walk away from their faith when they graduate from high school. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: research also shows that parents are one of the primary influences on their child’s faith.

This book arises from the innovative, research-based, and extensively field-tested project known as “Sticky Faith,” designed to equip parents with insights and ideas for nurturing long-term faith in children and young people. Because of the Fuller Youth Institute’s six years of research with more than 500 young people, 100 churches, and 50 families, four of this guidebook’s unique qualities make it a “must have” for families eager to point their young people toward long-term faith.

To win, leave a comment on the original blog post at MargaretFeinberg.com. The three winners will be selected and announced on Friday.

 Congratulations to the winners: Lori, Kerry, Tracy Snyder

What in your life is a “maybe yes” that could be tossed into your “no” column?

How would making those hard choices free you to walk along the “definite yes” paths the Lord has for you?

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33 responses to 9 Words to Add to Your Vocabulary Starting Today

  1. Hi. I would love to read this. My husband and I own a media company, I’m a mother of 3 and we love to make more room in our life for “life”.
    Sounds like an amazing read.

  2. Christina Geis August 8, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Always comforting to read others struggle through a wee bit of muck as we prioritize this short time we have with our families.

  3. Talk about a Sacred Echo – I just finished Greg McKeown’s book. In fact, it’s sitting right here on my desk. I started another book on another subject today and it begins with the same premise. What are we saying no to in order to say yes to something else? It’s a big question! I’m discovering that it’s easier to say no if the yes I really want and need for me and my family is clear.

  4. My husband and I recently signed up to teach our youth sunday school class at church. And yes it is disheartening that after graduation, we never see many of these kids again. Sure, they go off to college, but then do they come back? Have they found another church home? Have they moved? We just don’t know. It would be a privilege to be a part of their Christian foundation before they turn 18 and are on their own. I would love to read this book for some insight on how this may be accomplished!
    Thank you for this blog post. As a mother of 2, it’s also beneficial to my parenting life and deciding where the REAL priorities are. My mantra…”just say no and let it go”. I’ve come to realize I just can’t do everything and that’s ok. I do my part, and let others do their part, and somehow it just all works out.

  5. This sounds like a great book I need to read!

  6. Margie Hoffman Johnson August 8, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I must read this – I failed as a mother to instill that heart hot love for Jesus in either of my girls. One daughter – because I did not have it to share until she was nearly grown – the next born much later- tried too hard? I don’t know. I carry this with me every day. I have accomplished some BiblevStudy – some teaching – some success in the business world but it means nothing- at night I feel this loss and cry out to Jesus and cry period.

  7. My son recently married and his wife had a young daughter, I know that he wants to be the best father possible. I would love to be able to gift this book to him as he begins his parenting journey.

  8. This is fabulous. Such an answer to prayer. I have been struggling with knowing how to direct my time – specifically when it comes to relationships, and extended family. I have been seeking to understand my responsibilities as directed by the Lord. Those nine words clear everything up. If He has not given me a definitive “YES!” then my answer is “no,” with no strings attached. Just simply “no.”

    Blessings

  9. I’m kinda new at being a mom and already find it hard to balance my time and priorities. I’d like to read this book. I know I need to make time for God’s plan and purpose for me and my family.

  10. Thanks for the reminder on prioritizing the important versus the urgent! Definitely a great thought as I serve at home and at work.

  11. I would love to read this book. I am finding it hard to make our faith stick with our children with so much influence in the public school and little Christian influence from the Christian men in their lives.

  12. I too think I need to read this. Maybe because my husband sent me this link to coincide with how he keeps checking in on me when I seem to be overwhelmed and forever busy. Maybe a wake up call I did not know I needed.

  13. to hear god’s still,small voice, i myself have to rest and quiet my schedule…this in turn quiets my spirit. i try to do too much good in the world and all these things are good but they make me tired. it is then that i can hear god say to me peace be still,,, i did not create you to be a'”human doing but instead a human being”.God knows we get overwhelmed and wants to call us aside to rest and refocus our energies. i plan to look at my long “to-do” list today and take one thing off of it so i begin to see a “to-be” list instead. and, now i will have time to cook supper with my son and just bask in the last friday, lazy dayof summer, before he has to head back to school and fall comes. i will cherish this moment in time with him as it will be gone too soon and the first leaf will fall.i will see that i chose well….

  14. to hear god’s still,small voice, i myself have to rest and quiet my schedule…this in turn quiets my spirit. i try to do too much good in the world and all these things are good but they make me tired. it is then that i can hear god say to me peace be still,,, i did not create you to be a'”human doing but instead a human being”.God knows we get overwhelmed and wants to call us aside to rest and refocus our energies. i plan to look at my long “to-do” list today and take one thing off of it so i begin to see a “to-be” list instead. and, now i will have time to cook supper with my son and just bask in the last lazy days of summer, before he has to head back to school and fall comes. i will cherish this moment in time with him as it will be gone too soon and the first leaf will fall.i will see that i chose well….by giving up doing something, i gain a beautiful memory with my precious son that i can return to again when i am alone and fall has come. this beauty will be my harvest and will last to warm my soul when the chill winds of autumn comes.

  15. to hear god’s still,small voice, i myself have to rest and quiet my schedule…this in turn quiets my spirit. i try to do too much good in the world and all these things are good but they make me tired. it is then that i can hear god say to me peace be still,,, i did not create you to be a'”human doing but instead a human being”.God knows we get overwhelmed and wants to call us aside to rest and refocus our energies. i plan to look at my long “to-do” list today and take one thing off of it so i begin to see a “to-be” list instead. and, now i will have time to cook supper with my son and just bask in the last lazy days of summer, before he has to head back to school and fall comes. i will cherish this moment in time with him as it will be gone too soon and the first leaf will fall.i will see that i chose well….by giving up doing something, i gain a beautiful memory with my precious son that i can return to again when i am alone and fall has come. this beauty will be my harvest and will last to warm my soul when the chill winds of autumn blows.

  16. Would love to read that book as we are challenged in these teen years and raising 5 kids!

  17. Currently, I’m desperately trying to recruit leaders for the ministry I am the director of, but this phrase, “If it’s not a definite yes, it’s a no” echoes my heart. Though I want to encourage women to step out in faith and lead, I definitely don’t want them leading if they don’t feel leading is a definite yes. I want them to hear the Lord’s calling and be passionate about serving. If they aren’t, then it only spells disaster for the leader and the women she leads. At the same time, I’m trying to live out this message in my own busy life. As a mom of two boys, this book is on my “must read” list for awhile and I’d love to win it!

  18. I’m a youth director & mother of three teenage girls. I went on vacation with the same feelings after graduation festivities, youth mission trip, and senior high summer camp. My problem is I have too many definite yes answers. I’m going to try to rank them better this year!

  19. Christi Horton August 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Yes I too have struggled much of my life with saying “no” to some very good things in order to say “yes” to the best. It is crucial that parents spend quantity time with their kids so that the quality will happen. I have two children (30 & 32) and they each have two children. We are blessed that they are both serving the Lord in their churches and pouring the Word into their children’s lives. One added blessing from being in a great church is the other Godly men & women who join with parents to speak into kids’ lives.

  20. As a researcher of family relationships, I know how important parents are to children & youth development. I’d love to read Kara Powell’s book about parents’ influence on their children’s religious (Christian) development.

  21. So true. Life is way too busy and I love to say YES to fun and adventure. But good as they may be, I have limits in energy, time and funds! Love the research bit about simply-being-together. My own very basic investigation ala “kids, what is your fav memory of..” bears it out!
    Thanks for this timely reminder again. I said NO to a paid position and of course am grappling …but finished my book!

  22. Would love to read this book. Thanks.

  23. My maybe yes activities are all good ideas causes etc but aren’t for this season in my life. I need to hone my limited resource time and use it to the best of my ability.

  24. Several things fall in the maybe category – specifically opportunities to lead small groups keep getting bumped into a ‘not in this season’ category…

  25. This is a must read.
    My husband went to a talk at First Pres GH about 2 years ago and we still bring it up today.

  26. Enjoyed this post and the entire concept. We’ve been saying no so much lately and it’s good to hear encouragement to keep being so selective with our time. Thanks again.

  27. This is the exact direction in which we (our church) is going as we completely revamp or Family Ministries! Grateful that our pastoral staff are Fuller grads and support and encourage this change.

  28. I have just recently started to try and learn to quiet myself. My busyness is in my brain as well….

  29. What a great post and I also hear a sacred echo. I often say yes to often which results in stress out me and nothing done as good as it could of been if I was not overwhelmed. This week I also ordered the book The Best Yes. I feel like I am in a in between place where I lost many of the crazy commitment I have. I do enjoy this down time and hope I remember it and not over commit again!!

  30. I really like the idea of a “maybe yes” being a “no”. I think my husband and I could benefit from that idea while raising two teenage sons. Thank you!

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