Recently some of my friends have been verbalizing concern for my well-being. The reason is I am under quite a bit of stress as I am working many hours in counseling and in getting our biblical counseling center up and running. This, in addition to fulfilling my other responsibilities makes for very long days with little respite. I am certainly no hero in this, I am simply determined to do everything I can humanly do to bring the vision to life. I know that ultimately the outcome is in the Lord's hands.
Putting in all these hours working means I must say "No" when I am asked to take on another responsibility or add another item to my to-do list. Unlike many, I do not feel guilty for saying "No" when asked.
If I were to say "Yes" when I really didn't want to add that item or responsibility to my schedule I would be demonstrating a fear of man response. Fear of man is also referred to as "people pleasing" by some people. People pleasing is a major reason many people struggle with anxiety and stress because it places the opinion of people in a higher position than God and biblical principles. This is why it is referred to as having fear of man. It is the act of pleasing the one who asks something of you out of fear of judgment, condemnation, or fear of being rejected.
If you struggle with saying "No" you may be dealing with fear of man issues. If this is your habitual pattern you will routinely cave in and allow yourself to be pressured into a commitment you really don't want or have time for. It might be something you really would enjoy, but even enjoyable things can come at the wrong time of life. For instance, a lady in my church leads several Bible studies and I would love to attend one of them. However, it is just not the right time for me to do that. Were I to make the commitment to attend, I would add untold amounts of stress to my life and even though attending the Bible study would be a "good" thing, it would not be good for me. Yet many women would go anyway because they worry about what others will think if they do not attend.
It is not a requirement that you live your life to please others or to bow to their desires. Scripture does say that we are to make it our goal to please Him (2 Cor. 5:9). Pleasing God means bringing Him glory, living life in such a way that others can see you are connected to Him and that you live for Him. Part of that is living as though what He desires for you is more important than what another wants from you.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself before accepting another item for that To-Do List. These may help you decide if your answer would be a fear of man response or one that comes from righteous desires.
The most obvious question is what concerns you more- what others think of you, or glorifying God?
Another question would be how does what I am being asked to do aid in growing and changing me into a woman after God's heart? We are often asked to do things that are time wasters or have no good purpose. Personally, I base many of my decisions on the answer to these two questions.
I also want to know if it will draw or repel others where Christ is concerned. Scripture tells me to make the most of every opportunity because we live in such evil days (Eph. 5:16). I desire to be involved in things that will give an opportunity to put Christ on display in my life, that I might make inroads in the lives of unbelievers.
These are just a few considerations when faced with adding things to your schedule.