I was at a church board meeting the other night. What's worse, I led it (I'll tell you what that means in a moment). Here's a circle of busy, competent people, who, because they are busy and competent get asked to do just about everything. And as churches do (and just about every other volunteer organization), we found ways of asking them to do more. We needed a few volunteers for another task force, and few others for a weekend volunteer activity. Those that didn't dive into their calendars to try to find some legitimate way to say "no" simple stared at the papers in front of them.
They are all good people who want our congregation to do good things and know that requires involvement. When they have to say "no" they feel guilty. When they say "yes" they feel the draining weight of yet one more thing to attend.
This creates what I call "dry heave spirituality."
Not a pretty term, I know. But maybe it's shock value will awaken us to what we do to ourselves...to each other.
And here's what I meant by "what's worse, I led it." There comes a point when someone's got to say "enough." It would be nice if leaders like me could recognize in others the tell-tale signs of "dry heave spirituality". But we get blinded by the needs of an organization that require human resources.
Learning to speak a good "no" or "yes" means learning to stay near the center spiritually so that you and I know in our guts when we simply can't do another thing because to do it would violate something sacred within us. When we choose to act from the center there's a wholly/holy different experience.
This takes poise. Internal clarity. Conviction. Courage. We must breath. Seriously. By breathing, we slow down and come back into our bodies, aware of what's going on inside. And our breathing becomes a prayer that unites us with God who's within each of us.
It takes this kind of attentiveness to our lives from the inside-out so we can learn to sense when we're getting spiritually sick.
This kind of awareness can empower:
1. us to say "no" when we must not say "yes"
2. us to say "yes" when we can do so with wind at our backs
3. us who, like me, lead organizations to look out and see signs of dry heave spirituality in others even if they can't recognize it yet themselves.