When You Can, But Shouldn’t.

This is the tale of a lesson learned the hard way—and you know how fun those are.

Our story begins with a heap of good intentions. Someone (far craftier than you) appeals to your nature to please (everyone in the universe), and convincingly pleads that you (they know better) should lead the way. The fate of the (children, charity, non-profit organization) rests on your shoulders, and if you fail (yup, that word) to be the guiding force, all will be lost.

You believe you can, and there’s even a (flattered) part of you that wants to. You dive in (heart first), sure you’ll be able to accommodate the mountain of work ahead with sheer will and gumption.

Fast forward incalculable (unpaid) hours of time, and you find yourself (or in this case, me) with head in hands asking, “What in the world was I thinking?”

It’s at this point (too late) that you (me) go before the Lord and plead for deliverance. Surely the Creator of the universe can undo what you’ve done. Certainly your face-down-tantrums on the living room floor are not falling on deaf ears. Oh no, indeed He hears you…

When You Can, But Shouldn't {www.simplyforone.net} http://wp.me/p2v8DX-CH

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. (←Tweet that)

Those are the words God wrote over my regret filled heart. They sounded a whole lot like, “Deal, sister.”

While we have a God of grace, loving kindness, and tender mercies, there are simply times when we must lie in the bed we made and work out the consequences of our (hasty) actions. That same God of grace is always working to spare us of the worst, and that often means teaching us the lesson now—before we make a bigger mess.

If you find yourself in this position today, or perhaps on the cusp of making such a choice, can I offer you some wisdom from this hard-learned lesson?

  • Ask, don’t tell.

To my credit, I did seek the Lord prior to this decision. However, in hindsight, pride and ego wiggled into that conversation as I laid out what I could do, rather than listen for what I should do. Seeking God’s will and timing always involves more listening than speaking. He’s able and willing to show us what we should do, if we’ll stop telling Him what we can do.

  • Capability does not equal calling.

My motives in accepting this assignment were pure—I could help. Embracing that knowledge (can) and pairing it with commitment (should) are two very different things. It’s wonderful to be well-acquainted with our gifts and abilities, but there is no one who knows them better than God. He is also the ONLY one with the vantage point of perfect timing, position, and place for those gifts to be used. Just because He’s made us able, doesn’t mean He’s called us to action.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21 ESV

  • Whose “rules” are you following?

This world has a lot of “should-do rules.” I fall prey to the one that says I “should” please everyone—and I’ll work myself into a frenzy to make it happen. But frenzied isn’t how God wants me. In fact, frenzied leaves me too wrung dry to say “yes” when God comes calling. As His children, our rule isn’t “please everyone,” it’s “please God.” When we release ourselves from rules we aren’t obligated to follow it gives us permission to say “no,”—which then gives us freedom to pursue what is most pleasing to God.

  • Guts and glory.

If you find yourself in a position that wasn’t the best first choice, the next ones can make all the difference. It takes humility to bow out, but sometimes you humbly admit you bit off more than you could chew and ask for a rescue team. Other times, as is my case, you gut it out and finish what you started—to the glory of God. There is greater purpose in the process, even when it’s hard to see. (←Tweet that)

Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.
Colossians 3:24b MSG

While I’m not exactly thrilled to be in this predicament, it’s just like God to spin regret into a lesson filled with gratitude. There is a sweet freedom in learning that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should—or have to. Every future “no” I deliver for the right reasons, is truly a “yes” for God. 

You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots:  Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory)Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday).

42 thoughts on “When You Can, But Shouldn’t.

  1. Thanks for sharing these lessons learned the hard way, Tiffany. Your suggestions here are very wise and tie in perfectly with Lysa Terkheurst’s book The Best Yes, which I am in the middle of reading. This was a timely post for me. Thanks! xo

  2. “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.” — Thank You! ;)

    I literally just had this conversation with myself the other day!

    I love how God never ceases to speak to me or confirm a message I’m already receiving from Him through your words, dear friend!

    You are such a blessing to me!

  3. Thanks Tiffany,
    So encouraged through the honesty, integrity and wisdom your words convey. Such powerful truth to keep us freed up – free to respond “no”, in order to answer God with “yes”. Amen sis!

    1. Thanks, friend. I owe you an email, but my school schedule is the boss right now. I’ll be in touch soon, and thanks for visiting me here. Your encouragement is always a blessing.

  4. I love this post so much. As I struggle with whether to “try” again to train for a marathon …and how much time to let writing impede upon my dream job of stay at home mom, I will take your Christ-led thoughts into careful consideration. Thanks, Tiffany. You’ve always got something uplifting and helpful to share.
    Happy Wednesday from #TellHisStory!

    1. I love that staying home is your dream job. My guy is 13 now and I miss those sweet, simple days of just him and me doing life together. I still build my schedule around his, but from one mama to another, treasure and soak up that time God’s given you to devote to them…it goes SO fast. Praying He shows you the perfect can & should balance. Blessings, Megs.

  5. The last line really says it so well: “Every future “no” I deliver for the right reasons, is truly a “yes” for God.” I’m slowly getting better about saying “no” but it’s still difficult for me because I struggle with wanting to please. The Lord is working on heart and helping me shift from wanting so much to please others to having a hunger to please Him alone. Thanks for your wisdom, Tiffany!

    1. That is a hard shift for me too. I often remember words I read by Jen Hatmaker: “if it isn’t a heck yes (all in, 150%, can’t live without) then it’s a no.” Pleasing God is the best motivation for obedience and I’m learning to let the rest roll off. Thanks for visiting, Hannah. Hugs.

  6. Good insights, Tiffany! “Just because He’s made us able, doesn’t mean He’s called us to action.” It’s hard for me to say no when I have the time and/or ability, but sometimes even with those two availabilities, you’re right that we might still need to say no. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. It’s hard for me to say no too, but this lesson has taught me to weigh my yes a bit more carefully and be sure I’m using it in the right place. Thanks for visiting, Lisa.

  7. Nailed it, my friend. This is a hard lesson, but a good one to get down early. I’ve tried to pass it on proactively to my kiddos but sometimes the best lessons are those God teaches when we’re facedown asking for the rescue.

  8. Tiffany,
    I can so relate! I dive in because I want to help then get frustrated when things go differently than I thought (always!) and then I wonder why in the world I thought this was a good idea. I love how honest you are and sought God’s counsel but even then sometimes I find there’s something to be learned in everything and I love it when God shows me a better way!

  9. “When we release ourselves from rules we aren’t obligated to follow it gives us permission to say “no,”—which then gives us freedom to pursue what is most pleasing to God.”

    This is so my prayer! I think this even pertains to simple things like what you do day in and day out with family. I am glad you share this story. Maybe you can save one of us ; ) visiting from tellhisstory your neighbor : )

    1. Absolutely! There are opportunities all around us to practice choosing well. It’s my prayer too that I’m always giving my first and best yes to the Lord. Thanks for being here.

  10. So timely for me! Thanks, Tiff. Praying that God will show me what pleases Him and that my heart would be pure before Him.

  11. I love this, Tiffany: “It’s just like God to spin regret into a lesson filled with gratitude.” Sometimes, for me, the main lesson is, “Next time you’ll know.” And I’m realizing that there’s a lot of grace in that. Thank you for allowing us to learn from your experience, my friend. :-)

  12. Such wise insight here, Tiffany. I think those “hands-on” lessons teach us the deepest, don’t they? I love this reminder – “Seeking God’s will and timing always involves more listening than speaking.” Sometimes I’m too busy asking for direction or telling Him what His will should be instead of stopping and listening for His still small voice. Thank you for being so honest here. Blessings and hugs to you!

    1. I hear you, Trudy. Sometimes that still small voice gets crowded out by all the noise, doesn’t it. Here’s to being intentional with the time and space to lean in and listen well. xoxo

  13. Awww. Thank you for this honest story. Oh this is so true: “Seeking God’s will and timing always involves more listening than speaking.” And I’m not always so good in that department either…busying myself not to have to listen for fear of an answer I don’t want to hear!

    Thankful He helps us to learn in the falling….not always easy! I recently finally listened to the nudges and layed something down I was holding tight…took a lot of nudging though…I can be rather stubborn and prefer wallowing in the hole I’ve built myself! Thankful God doesn’t let us stay there: His mercies are indeed new every morning!

    Hugs to you today….not easy!

    1. Oh yes, Anna – selective hearing is a whole ‘nother story, right?! I think one of the most beautiful things about an intimate relationship with a personal savior is that He never stops teaching us what we need to learn – or reteaching us what we keep forgetting. It’s such a portrait of His grace and patience with His children. Hugs back to you!

    1. I love a good ol’ neck hug! The struggle is real, right? It why we share our faith face plants, so others can be spared of their own. A millions you’re welcomes, my friend. xoxo

  14. Tiffany,

    I loved this: There is greater purpose in the process, even when it’s hard to see.

    I love that God takes the situations we get ourselves involved in, even if it’s not what he purposed for us initially, and shows us mercy and grace. He does not just leave us to figure it out on our own if we will lean on him.

    He brings purpose to the process, even if the process is not what he purposed for us to begin with. Ha, ha. God is so, so good. Tiffany, I appreciate your blog and transparency. We all have found ourselves in situations like this from time to time I’m sure. I know I have. Sometimes there is great comfort in just knowing we’re not the only ones who find ourselves biting off more than we should have or more than we can chew. So we buck up, make it through, and learn a whole lot along the way. :)

    1. He is SO good – I can hardly stand it! It’s beyond gracious that when we run wild and make a mess of things, He hems us in with lessons and transformations that simply make us better people, better equipped to glorify Him. Thanks so much for joining the conversation today, Joelle. Blessings, friend.

  15. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Definitely some words to live by Tiffany! It’s a blessing when God allows all things to work together for good. He reveals Himself to us in unexpected ways at times. I am learning to ask God for wisdom in any decision I make. I’m blessed that He offers it so freely. I will be sharing this post. I believe we need to remind ourselves to trust Him in every situation. Have a wonderful week and may God bless you and yours!

    1. I for one need that reminder a lot, Horace – He is so worthy of our trust, and as you said so freely willing to give us necessary wisdom. Here’s to seeking Him and listening for those good and right answers. Thanks for being here, friend.

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