Starting this book on the heels of What’s Best Next (review here), as another three-word-titled productivity-ish book, I have to admit I was a little curious as to the direction it would go. (I mean, that title almost sounds like it flows with Your Best Life Now? ;)) Thankfully, the book and its content are fairly straightforward.
Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands connected well with my recents readings of What’s Best Next and Essentialism, but definitely had a unique approach and is geared toward the specific audience of women (and moms), though still providing material that applicable for anyone. This was also my first time to read a book by Terkeurst.
Saying “no” is hard. Especially, saying “no” to good people, good opportunities, and even good ministries. We live in an age of endless opportunities, 24/7 accessibility, and lots of pressure to not only “have it all,” but to “do it all” and “be it all.” And in this type of culture, it is especially important to consider, reconsider, and pursue wisdom as we make decisions.
For most of us, we need to hear the message that we need to do less in order to do and be our best. Many of us who grew up in Christian subcultures often saw busyness as a measure of spirituality, and involvement in any and every ministry opportunity was encouraged. If this was you, this book is for you. (Even for those on the opposite spectrum, who feel like they really need to stop being lazy or take on a little more challenge, this book will be an incredibly helpful resource.)
For those of us who have been reading material countering these demands to stay crazy busy, many of us are familiar with the saying that a “yes” to one opportunity is a “no” to other opportunities. The Best Yes follows along this stream, but casts it further by encouraging readers to consider how saying “yes” to too much or the wrong opportunities causes us to miss out on the best opportunities. Hence, the title.
Terkeurst uses the helpful analogy of bankruptcy to more fully describe the importance of guarding our time and physical and emotional (and spiritual and financial) resources. It is not mine to give what I do not have to give. (Hard to hear for me!) Most of us know that to be true with our finances, but sometimes it’s a bit harder to see this with our other resources: our time, our emotions, or our physical strength.
Yes, sometimes, we must push ourselves (really, rely on God for our strength) when life circumstances fully out of our control overload us. Sometimes we need to bear burdens for others that are hard. (We also need to ask if our own unwise choices and lack of boundaries have brought about such circumstances in the first place.) But we cannot voluntarily hand out time and energy that we don’t have to give. We grow in debt and become bankrupt when we do so. When we hand out tokens of our time and energy beyond what we have, we end up coming back empty handed on those who are consistently dependent on us.
This is an area that I’ve done some reading on over the last few years, yet this book helped me see things from a fresh angle and was a reminder that I desperately needed to recalibrate yet again. And as a young mother of young children, this read highlighted the need to constantly reevaluate what are my “best yeses,” as my abilities, resources, and time are constantly changing over different seasons of parenting and life. I also need to realize this is going to look different for everyone, even for those who I consider to be in the same season of life with many similarities. Personal reflection on this theme also had me realize that when I refuse to set appropriate boundaries, it can cause others to also make poor decisions in that area; and vice versa, when I surround myself with people who have poor boundaries, it’s much easier for me to feel I must live the same. And the emotional effort of having to set boundaries for myself and for those who struggle to do so can often itself require additional boundaries.
Terkeurst helpfully weaves together her life stories, Scripture, and other sources of wisdom together to present the message of this book. Saying “yes to the best” requires a long-term vision, rather than a vision for the present – for instant gratification results. It requires saying “no” to a lot of good things, and a willingness to look beyond temporary reactions to our decisions. It requires seeking wisdom preemptively, rather than as a reactionary response. And quite importantly, it requires seeking God’s face, and trusting in Him through faith, trusting that He has given us the resources we need to find and exercise wisdom. Where other books on a similar note often focus on the “no” of boundaries, the focus here is more positive, on aligning our saying no and our decisions under being able to give our best yes, whether now or later on down the line.
My concerns or negative reflections? I’ve seen this being marketed as a women’s Bible study. It’s not. It refers to Scripture, and draws the message of the book from the Bible. But it’s not a Bible study! (This is one I’d count as such, though more specifically this would be a true Bible study.) Otherwise, parts of this grow verbose and flowery. But many of the audience this is written for prefer that style, and might not as apt to pick up differently-styled books on the subject. And those flowery stories to accompany the counsel offered are sometimes the way that the book’s message sticks with me, too.
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