Saying Yes and Saying No - Ways to Practice - Ideas

Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it
to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.

— I Corinthians 9:25

•   Reflect on how children develop the capacity for saying "No!" at an early age. What's at stake in their no-saying? When do young children say "no" but really mean "yes"? As adults, to what do we say "no" but mean "yes"? To what do we say "yes" but mean "no"?

•   Just Say No. "Just Say No" has been used as a slogan for anti-drug and sexual-abstinence campaigns with teens. How do you rate the effectiveness of these campaigns? In saying "no" to drugs and premarital sex, to what are teens encouraged to say "yes"?

•   Identify five things you say "no" to on a regular basis. What is the larger context of life-affirming "yes" for each "no"?

•   Consider a form of social injustice that concerns you. What would be required to say "no" to this injustice? What "yes" would be tied to the "no"? Reflect on what this yes and no would mean for you as an individual, as a family, as a group or community.

•   List the yeses and nos that regular Sabbath-keeping would require of you. Commit to keeping the Sabbath free from work, commerce, and worry and free for worship, rest, renewal, and communion with others. List the yeses and noes that regular Sabbath-keeping would require of you. Deeper engagement in other Christian practices would also require a set of yeses and noes.

•   Strengthen yes and no through prayer. Choose a time for daily prayer (early morning, mid-afternoon, before supper, late in the evening). Resolve to keep this time, even if you must put it in an appointment book.

•   Strengthen yes and no through examination of conscience. Review recent decisions, choices, actions, omissions, attitudes, and desires, asking:

-   What do these indicate to me about my relationship with God, with myself, with others?
-   To what or to whom have I said yes or no this day, this week, this month, this year?
-   What motivated me to say yes or no?
-   What obstacles did I encounter?
-   Am I afraid that saying no may require me to give up more than I bargained for, or to grow in unfamiliar ways?

•   Strengthen yes and no through faith-sharing groups. Form a faith-sharing group of 4-8 people who are willing to hold one another accountable for your yes-saying and no-saying. Be open to hear and respond to challenges to reconsider your yeses and your noes. Determine how often you will meet, and what commitments you will make to keep to the schedule. Meet for a meal, followed by personal testimony and prayer; meet after weekly worship, to practice keeping the Sabbath together. Incorporate Bible study, or shape your faith-sharing around service or struggles with a specific justice issue.

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