The Bible says “let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” but sometimes it’s difficult to know how to practically apply that scriptural principle in the everyday complexity of life and why it’s important to do so.
Bible Gateway interviewed Lysa TerKeurst (@LysaTerKeurst) about her book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands (Thomas Nelson, 2014).
Why is your book written specifically toward women? Don’t men need direction in their decision-making too?
Lysa TerKeurst: I love that you asked this! Though I write from the vantage point of being a woman, I can tell from social media many men are reading The Best Yes. So, yes, men do benefit from this message on making wiser decisions.
How is everyday decision-making a spiritual exercise?
Lysa TerKeurst: I think it’s a much more spiritual exercise than we even realize. The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live. The lives we live determine how we spend our souls.
And a person who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.
So if we want to live better and invest wisely in our souls, we’ve got to change our approach to the way we make decisions. We’ve got to rethink how we use the two most powerful words, yes and no.
How do people misuse the words “yes” and “no”?
Lysa TerKeurst: When people misuse these words, they’re usually either at one extreme or the other–they say yes all the time or they say no all the time.
The problem with saying yes all the time is that it won’t make you Wonder Woman. It’ll make you a worn-out woman. And soon you’ll find the relationships you treasure most are constantly getting your ‘less’ instead of your ‘best’ because of your endless to-do list and overwhelming schedule.
But on the other end of the spectrum, we can’t use this permission to sometimes say no and use it as a wand to wish away all our responsibilities. We also must remember not to use our “no” answers as a weapon. We can’t turn into No! ninjas, karate-chopping anyone who even comes close to asking us for something.
What do you mean by your statement in the book, “We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please”?
Lysa TerKeurst: Throughout Scripture, we’re instructed to love others above all else (1 Pet. 4:8, 1 John 4:8, Col. 3:14, etc.) But it’s so easy to fall into the trap of people-pleasing because we think we’re loving others by saying “yes” to every request they ask of us.
When I’m overwhelmed with all the things I’ve committed to, I get to a breaking point where I sacrifice my attitude of love on the altar of activity. And that’s certainly not pleasing to God.
Here’s the thing: we need to make sure our activities and our attitudes line up with what pleases God first and foremost. Wherever we focus our attention the most will become the driving force in our lives.
The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please people, the more of a magnified force people-pleasing will become in my life. The more I focus on pleasing God, the more magnified He will become in my life.
You write, “The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of his direction for tomorrow.” How should a person discern God’s instruction for today?
Lysa TerKeurst: So often, we want big directional signs from God. God just wants us to pay attention. But we need to leave enough space in our days to get up from our prayers and actually look for God in the moment-to-moment things that happen.
Speak briefly about how to acquire biblical wisdom and discernment, and their practical outworking every day.
Lysa TerKeurst: Well, first the Bible tells us if we lack wisdom to ask for it (Jam. 1:5). But, just like an athlete who wants to excel at a sport, we’ve got to show up to practice wisdom every day. Here are some tangible ways to do that:
- Get into God’s Word and let God’s Word into you.
- Listen to wise teaching, wise advice, and keep the company of wise people.
- Ask the Lord to show you how your choices will affect others.
- See the value of biblical wisdom as higher than any worldly way we are offered.
What key Bible verses should we keep in mind as we make our choices every day?
Lysa TerKeurst: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9-10, NIV). These verses teach us that discerning what is best is something we’re capable of doing as we layer knowledge and depth of insight into our lives.
- Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.
- Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.
- Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.
The Holy Spirit helps us remember that knowledge and insight so we can display it through good judgment in our everyday life decisions.
Bio: Lysa TerKeurst is The New York Times bestselling author of Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely, Made to Crave, and Unglued. She isn’t shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But she’s been learning God’s lessons and sharing them on her blog and in her books. Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes from her sticky farm table in North Carolina where she lives with her husband, Art, five kids, three dogs, and mouse that refuses to leave her kitchen.