>The Yes Man

>I once heard an old story about George Washington, it has all the hallmarks of a legend and may never have happened but this is how I remember it.

There was once a traveller who needed to cross a river in the early part of spring. The water was high and running very quickly and he was on foot. While he stood on the shore contemplating the best way to get across he was met by a group of men travelling on horse-back. Since the river was so high even crossing on horse-back would be treacherous.

It was obvious by the attire of this group and the way they carried themselves that they where powerful men of means. After looking them over, the traveller approached one of the men and asked if he could ride with him across the river. The man did not hesitate and said yes. After they were safely across one of the other men asked the traveller what made him ask the president of the United States for a ride. Surprised the traveller responded that he did not recognize the president but that as he looked over the group all the other men had “no” faces, he pick the man who had a “yes” face.

Too often in the past my default answer to any question has been no. It has become so ingrained in my response that sometimes I feel like it’s been tattooed to my forehead. I’m so caught up in my own world, my own pre-occupations, needs, worries, wants and desires that I brush by everyone. I may as well be screaming “NO! – Leave me Alone! – Don’t Bother Me!”

Last week I decided on my New Year’s resolution. I know, most people figure this out and make a bold pronouncement on Dec 31, next year I’m going to… But most have sadly failed by the middle of January! So I figure by not even making a resolution until now I’m ahead of the game.

Are you ready? Here it is.

2011 will be the year of Yes!

This year I will do my best to say yes to every request. That doesn’t mean I will be able to do everything people ask me to do, there will inevitably be conflicts of time, lack of funds or insurmountable physical barriers. Don’t ask me to jump over the moon or give you a million dollars and don’t ask me to help you move on my wedding anniversary. But if my default setting is yes then I will be more open to giving you the change in my pocket or helping you move on the day after my anniversary.

Will I get taken advantage of? Probably, but the goal here isn’t to judge the motives of others. The goal is to be available, to offer a helping hand and to deepen relationships. If someone tries to take advantage I can be discerning and call them on it but that response need not be an outright “no” but rather a sincere questioning of real need and exploration of alternative solutions.

Ultimately it’s not about me. It’s about the relationship I can have with my fellow man. Fear of being taken advantage of weakens relationship and destroys the opportunity to show love and compassion to those who need it most.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. [1 John 4:18]


  1. >I agree in principle with your idea. But will you say yes, when no is actually in someone's best interest? I will use the example of Simon Magus (Simon the Magician). Simon saw the miracles that the Apostles appeared to have the power to accomplish. I say appeared because it was God working through them regarding the miracles. Simon had ulterior motives in his desire and he was told NO. Many times when we pray for something, God says no as well, or God says something else is a better choice. That being said, if we are asked for help, whether it be financial, material or spiritual and we don't know what someone's motives are, as Christians, we are to assume the best, and pray that God will grant guidance and wisdom to use what we give properly. When I pull up to a stoplight, and someone is asking for money, I can't assume that "oh, they will just use this for crack cocaine, and say no. If I see someone with their hood up (a common ploy for robbery here) I can't assume that robbery is their intention. If I pull over to help because I have God in my heart, and they shoot me then I die in the name of Christ. I have rudimentary mechanical skills when it comes to automobiles and offen either fix or diagnose what is wrong with their cars or trucks. What matters is in your heart. Now if somebody asks for food claiming to be hungry and I offer to take them to lunch or bring them something back and then they change their mind and ask for money, I have to look at them more skeptically. If they admit they have an addiction problem whether it be alcohol, gambling, drug, or any other, I can get them help at no cost. My congregation (group of Christians that I worship with) as well as friends that are now elected officials in our local government who will pay for or pull strings to get help for anybody who wants to change their lives. What did Jesus say about fish? Give a fish and they eat today, teaching how to fish feeds for a lifetime. That teaching implies a willingness on the part of those who ask for help to be willing to put in effort for something far greater than something instant. We have to look at the each situation individually and unless we see a reason (going far beyond appearances) not to help, it is our responsibility to help. As for New Years resolutions, they are way overrated and if one decides ahead of time what their resolution will be I.E changes one needs to make in their own life and don't make those immediately, chances are, deep down they don't want to or else they would begin making those changes immediately. That is why I never make new years resolutions, but look at myself and try to improve all the time. As Christians, that is our responsibility. Did the Ethiopian Eunich wait until new years day to be Babtized? No, he saw the need for change in his life and took immediate action. When Jesus said drop what you are doing "and follow me". Not wait until Passover, some other calendar date in the future, or the end of the day. He said now. A common practice in the late 2nd and 3rd century was for Christians to wait until the end of their lives for baptism. How many souls were lost because of man changing the examples Christ and the Apostles through God, set for us to follow? Your example is excellent. You could have said next year or next month I will do this. By the way, since you are in a yes mood, how about sending a million dollars this way…

  2. >Sometimes we can yes ourselves into big trouble. Yes isn't everything it is made out to be. Yesing to others isn't as dangerous as yesing to yourself. Most people are not aware of "perfect love" so they're going to be skeptical about your yesing. That's why people would rather steal from you than ask.Yesing can lead to policy setting by precedent. This is a way of avoiding conflict and surrendering. Your standards, values, and beliefs become relative to the situation.Yes has always been easier than no for me but I must admit, the older I get the more comfortable and reassuring no is.

  3. >Ted…You yes yourself into trouble when the yes is about making yourself feel good. When you remove yourself from the equation it becomes a lot easier to say yes without hurting yourself in the process.

  4. >Andrew33…Haha – There's always got to me one smart-ass in every group doesn't there?Quoting myself – "That doesn’t mean I will be able to do everything people ask me to do, there will inevitably be conflicts of time, lack of funds or insurmountable physical barriers" I have $10 to my name right now, if you really need it send me your paypal account information…I also said – "I can be discerning and call them on it but that response need not be an outright “no” but rather a sincere questioning of real need and exploration of alternative solutions."So Simon the Magician is a great example whom the aposlted discerned had wrong motives. We don't know what happened to him after that encounter but he could have still become a member of the church if his heart was changed.

  5. >Yes, that is a component I forgot. If you are yesing without any self-interest, it is easier to say yes. I think we agree that yesing to avoid conflict is not the ethical way to go.

  6. >Lauren,This topic kind of reminds me of the old saying “Be careful what you ask for”. I read recently; if you’re going to ask god to be an instrument to help others, understand and know this: Expect instant results and expect the unexpected and expect to be inconvenienced at the worst possible times. Expect to have to make sacrifices when you really don’t want to.I will quote it…“Mark my words; after you pray this prayer, someone in need is going to practically show up at your doorstep—and he; she, is going to be in dire straights. Emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially, you name it they are going to have some kind of serious problem. The person may be a friend, an enemy, a family member, or a complete stranger. And they’re going to be in bad shape. And you are going to be the only person in the world that can help them”("10 Prayers God always says yes to" by Anthony Destefano)While I don’t fully agree with the above quote I must contend that it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that god could very well work in this manor. But we need to also understand saying yes to and helping others when the opportunity arises does not always come in the form of some one in crisis.In reference to the yessing oneself into trouble. I agree, but we also need a balance and can not yes away and give that which by default belongs to our family (our personal responsibility's to our wife's, children etc. weather it be financially, emotional support, our time etc.) being a yes extremist at the expense of our family and loved one I guess is what I am trying to say (there needs to be a balance) I love the little story about the man asking the president for a ride. That is a great example and analogy of how we are perceived by others (the impression we give off to others) the men with “No” faces. That is classic and so, so true and I bet the majority of us don’t even realize we have “No” faces.Another great and deep thought provoking blog Lauren thanks.

  7. >One problem with over"yessing" as Ted aptly put it is that you can very easily yes your way into spreading yourself too thin. I have done so too many times. It's important that we don't make promises we can't keep or overextend ourselves to the point where we are unable to fulfil the obligations we put upon ourselves when we say "yes". By doing so you are taking an oath, something we are told to be very careful about in scripture. One correction to make, I got my fish analogies mixed up. I believe I got my Chinese and Hebrew proverbs mixed up. The point is no less valid, however, the implication that such a point was scriptural and therefore biblically inspired was wrong on my part. There is no example of God making allowances for error based on intent. That is why we must continually pray for wisdom and guidance. When we do so and it arrives in an unexpected way, we must always be thankful shedding the human arrogance and tendency to become angry or defensive, right Lauren? I say this because Lauren aptly pointed out my error which I appreciate greatly because I effectively put words into Jesus' mouth that he was never recorded as saying. I don't want to stand in judgement before God for doing so.

  8. >Now, Lauren may think I'm wandering off topic here, but I have a good reason for bringing this subject up. All mankind will have to stand before God in judgement. Our true goal is saving souls, and we must always give God credit for our ability to say yes, and let our generosity be an example to those who don't have a relationship with our creator. There is nothing more valuable than a human soul, and if a Christian works all their life trying to save souls and their effort leads to just saving one, then all that effort was well worth it. On that note remember this: in saying yes, and granting worldly assistance and in the process telling others about Jesus and our spiritual relationships, we must remember that we are only planting seeds. It can take those seeds a long time to take root. I am a perfect example of just that situation. Those seeds were planted with me at a young age. Like most, I paid no attention. Almost 3 decades later, the right conditions in my life allowed those seeds to take root. So, we must not be disappointed if we don't see fruits of our labor in that area. We must have faith that God will use our work in his way and in his time. We who are Christians are only commanded to teach others of our faith and then place faith in God that he will work through us. That is exactly why someone like Simon Magus most definitely could have become a Christian. Even those history demonizes such as Hitler, Stalin, or Mao (all guilty of killing millions) could have turned to Christ and had their sins forgiven. That is important because a common myth that people tell themselves is that they are too far gone to be saved and that is NEVER true. If that were true, I would be on the top of the banned list. Most people don't have the opportunity to study 1st century Jewish history or Roman history to realize the position Paul explained when he stated that before Jesus appeared to him, that he was a "Pharisee of Pharisees". That is a subtle hint that Paul's political position was likely far higher than most people realize. In that society, average people did not join political parties like we can today. Only the elite of the elites were able to do so. Such a reference implied that Paul may have sat on the very Sanhedrin ruling council at the time that Jesus was sentenced to death. That reference also implied that Paul was possibly being groomed to be High Priest. Look at what he did and sacrificed to help others. When you feel like you are spread too thin, let Paul's example show you how far you should go to say yes in the Name of God. In modern terms, Paul gave up a chance of being Prime Minister (for my Candian friends) or President (for us south of the border) as well as immense material wealth to say yes for God. If a Jewish political elite, admittedly guilty of murdering Cristians, possibly including Christ himself could be forgiven, then give up everything society places value on such as wealth, power, social status, and his freedom to be a "yes man" for God, the rest of us will never be so far gone that we are beyond forgiveness. This should stand as an example to those of us in a position to say yes for God, and for others who are in a position where we need to ask.The other lesson that we must carry from this is that our ultimate goal has to be saving souls. There is little overall benefit in a little comfort to someone now knowing that their eternal soul faces unending torture.

  9. >wired journal… It really comes down to re-orienting your life to a life of service to others. The concept of dieing to self as Paul puts it comes to mind. Something that I intend to expand upon in a future post.

  10. >God gives us a heart of compassion. Otherwise we would be selfish and desiring to only help and please ourselves. God also can and will give us wisdom in each circumstance. I don't claim to be that well in touch with God that I pray before making any decision, but I do think that if a person prays and asks for insight, God will answer. I think prayer is far too neglected, and under estimated. I guess I'm preaching to myself first.

  11. >Rick.. I don't trust Hollywood to teach me theology but if you want to compare the way things should be to a Jim Carrey movie, my view is a bit more – Bruce Almighty

  12. >Create some sort of challenge for me, and if I meet it or overcome it, then pay me by giving a significant amount of money to a (legitimate) charity of my choice. 😉

  13. >Good to see, this is. There need to be more people willing to help others, and this makes you another person in the right direction.

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