My husband and I have this saying that we stole from a former commercial fisherman named Jack*.
Jack used to say people will “should” all over you, if you let them.
As in, You “should” do this.
You “should” do that.
So when we feel the inward pull to do more than we want to, we say that “People are shoulding on us.”
And we’ve had to learn the hard way that people “should” on each other. We all do it. We place expectations on each other that we don’t realize are slowly suffocating the life out of the ones we love.
And so we’ve had to learn how to get very good at saying “No”, “No, thank you”, and “I’m sorry that’s not going to work for me”.
Because ultimately, it’s no one else’s job to guard our own hearts except our own.
God has tasked us with that responsibility.
Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.
God wasn’t kidding.
Everything that flows from your life starts with your heart
And nothing kills our hearts quite like “should”.
We can get so caught up in looking ahead that we forget to live in the now, the present of our lives.
We worry and fret that we aren’t doing enough and so we redouble our efforts to get more done.
To not only do more but to produce more.
And that is death to our hearts.
It is not up to us.
We are in God’s process of learning to listen to our hearts just as we listen for His.
And if His spirit is within us – it is Him who works in us BOTH to work but also to want to do good things.
But we have to pay attention.
It’s far to easy to drift into auto-pilot and just do what we believe is the “right-thing” rather than allow God’s spirit to direct our steps to do the “God-thing”.
And there is a huge chasm between the two.
We can be so busy doing the “right thing” that we miss out on God’s “best thing”.
For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.
(The Amplified Bible)
So what if instead of tackling our to-do lists and striving to meet other people’s expectations of us, we stopped to ask ourselves what we WANT to do today and from there asking the Father what he thinks about that?
What would your day look like?
Would you have more peace?
Would you have more fun?
Because you were created to live in freedom. And the choice to give to others can only truly come from that place of freedom.
It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].
And so for the past 2 years, we have been learning as a church how to walk in a season of stewardship.
That means that God is giving us the freedom to choose to take care of ourselves and the things and people he has placed in our care.
As a mother, that means taking care of yourself so you have energy, time, and the mental clarity to love on your kids.
As someone in a ministry position, that means having interests outside of church so that you are recharged and able to face the demands and needs of others. This also means, being completely comfortable saying “no” to others. It was never your job to save them – only to point them to the One who can.
As a human being, that means saying “no” to the requests of others so that you have space and time to recharge and just be.
There are seasons and times when we slip into absolute apathy and God does challenge us to give more, but not this time. This is a season of stepping back and allowing God to do what He does best. This is a season of being present. Present with Him. This is a season that is all about lifting our eyes upward to connect with the Father and is less about reaching out to others, which is why there is such an opposition to it.
This is a strategic move of the enemy because:
“Should” will burn out all of our energy to seek God first.
“Should” will leave you wondering and striving and exhausted.
“Should” makes it very difficult to experience the presence of God.
So today, I challenge you to step away from all of the demands of others, whether they be spoken or unspoken. And to step into what the Father has for you. I promise you it’s worth it and full of more of His presence and grace than you or I could contain.
*Jack Frost was a commercial fisherman before God caught ahold of his heart. You can check out more of his resources at Shiloh Place Ministries