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?