What if everyone said “No”?

What if everyone said “No”?

One of the great tasks of my job as Communications Coordinator is lining up writers for A Menno Minute. Are you surprised I said “great”? It’s true. I joke that often on Mondays, I shake the MCA tree hoping for Menno Minute writers  —  and look at that, writers fall out.

But what if they didn’t?  What if everyone said “no”?  What if everyone said “no" all the time?

I think we all sort of dread that phone call from the Nominations Committee, whether it be from our local congregation or Charlene or Jan from MCA’s Nominations Committee. Do I really want another job? How much work is this going to be? Is what I’m being asked to do a fit for me? Or  when an email from Worship Committee pops into our inboxes. Can I read scripture this week? Lead a service? Tell the children’s story? Play the piano? To make a church a church, everyone needs to do something and sometimes that something must come from me. Admittedly, some asks need to fit one’s skillset. You don’t need to ask me to play the piano or maintain the finances. Never. Ever. And, if you’re having an event, I’d rather be the MC than worry about the refreshments.

When I was a young parent, I had a wonderful friend and mentor who was 10 years older than me, who had kids 10 years older than mine. I often say my kids survived because of her. One thing she taught me was to say “yes” as often as I could and reserve “no” for when I needed that “NO” to mean something. Good parenting advice.

Years later, when I became a counsellor, I often said to clients that “no” was a legitimate answer. I often met women who said “yes” to everything and everyone until they burned out in exhaustion. I remember getting a card that said “Thank you for teaching me to not be a doormat.” “No” can be a useful word. Sometimes, however, it’s better to couch it differently “No, I can’t do the children’s story this week but I can two weeks from now.”  A good “no” can have nuance.

Now I’m a photographer. Occasionally when I edit photos, particularly using a tool to remove the ruddiness from a person’s face, I (following advice from YouTube) move the saturation slider all the way to the right to create glaring neon red skin. An exaggeration for sure, but it shows me where the problem is. And I know how to fix it.

That brings me back to the extreme of my question: What if everyone said “no?” How would we as MCA continue? How would our local congregations continue? What would be left of what we call “the church?”  I genuinely don’t want to think about this too often. I’d rather be grateful for all the times when I’m the one who asks and the person I’m asking says “Yes, I could do that.”  And remind myself that although sometimes my own yeses might need to be measured there should be times when I respond the same “Yes, I can do that.”