I don’t know if I came from a line of great yes-butters, or if it is a skill that I have individually developed. But, I do know that I am a proficient yes-butter. Maybe it happened in my elementary years when I spent more time looking out of the window than reading the words on the paper in front of me: day-dreaming. Maybe it happened in middle school when I seemed so alone and didn’t really fit into any particular group: ostracized. Maybe this was a skill that seeded itself while I was young, but really grew in strength when I was in high school and college: making excuses instead of facing challenges. Maybe this was the influence of those who told me that I couldn’t and that I shouldn’t. For whatever reason, yes-butting has become the comfortable face of my personality, and God does not like it.
He doesn’t approach me so gently anymore. He has been bugging me about this for some 40 years, and now He makes statements like: “You will never become what I intended if you keep holding on to these crutches.”
How rude! Can’t He be just a little more patient? Forty years isn’t so long. Hey wait, didn’t the “Chosen people” wander around about that long? Never mind… no argument value here… that was a waste, too. Like them, I am coming around… like them, I am slow. I know… there is never “waste” in growth… even the slow kind. But there is certainly “waste” in sameness… the kind of sameness that isn’t devoted and strong and persistent… the kind that just allows one to remain without the needed change. And yes-butting is the perfect way to stay in any same-weak-condition. So, no, my Lord has not been very gentle with me lately.
I have yes-butted with the best of them. My skill is refined. And still He has had no admiration for my ability to stand in the corner. When things began to fill up my schedule and requests were made for me to volunteer… I yes-butted them and told them that I had no time. When a friend of mine was in desperate financial need, I gave her a little and then yes-butted why it could not be more. I have yes-butted my mom about spending some time and turned down the neighbors invitations. I have ignored requests from schools and community organizations and other groups intending good. I have yes-butted my way right into a life with no confidence and no real possibility to help a very needing world. And yes, I have watched the world… I have watched a lot of you… and I have found comfort in the fact that you are doing the same.
At church people yes-but the offering plate, forgetting the real One who is passing it down the row. They also yes-but the invitation to sing in the choir and perform in special groups. One woman told me in her very yes-butting voice that she had no experience teaching kids and therefore just could not help in Sunday school… as she stood there with her four children. I have even heard a preacher yes-butting the Lord by side-stepping the tough issues that are difficult and socially conflicting… only to preach promise and prosperity. Oh yes, yes-butting has become a very spiritually refined skill.
Why is it that we are all so capable of saying “no” and making excuses? Is it that we are really too busy, or are we just too afraid? For me, I know the answer is fear. Who likes to be in conflict? Who likes to put themselves out-there for a task that demands time and energy? Who likes to feel responsible for a potential failure? Isn’t it most safe to offer a brilliant yes-but and then stand way in the back and watch as the world continues on its same path?
But is this the mission and expectations of Christ? Is there anything further from a Christ-like behavior than yes-butting? Yes-butting has drained us of our faith and in turn has made us weak people of should-of-been destinies. We are missing out on helping each other, on being a bigger part of what is accomplished, of living for Christ in front of the whole world, of fulfilling our designed purpose.
So I am calling all yes-butters. Come and unite… and then attack that nasty habit. Encourage each other to take on new things, to reach out further, to help more. Let’s not encourage each other in our weaknesses, but remind each other of our strengths. And, as the fear approaches (which satan will make absolute sure that it does) praise the Lord loudly and publicly. Then watch as God’s power is manifested and falls like rain on us as we make our new attempt. The Lord has no appreciation for the art of yes-butting… no matter how well you have mastered it. He only appreciates its death.
Rhonda Loucks is a wife, mother, Sunday School teacher and member of Wichita First Church of the Nazarene. She contributes regularly to the church’s Women’s Ministry newsletters.