You may be faced with something that is valid to do, and nobody is saying you can’t do it, but it will take you away from other things you are expected to do. It isn’t appropriate to say yes to something, that is fine of itself, that will lead you away from things that you are supposed to prioritise.
As a pastor, I frequently get asked to do lots of things. Many of them seem worthy things to be doing, though a fair amount probably aren’t. Nobody has enough time to do everything and at some point the questions must be asked, ‘what do I do?’ and ‘to what do I say no?’ I think there are some reasonable questions we can ask to help us discern the answer.
Does Jesus expect me to do this?
The first question we should be asking is this: does Jesus demand this of me? If Jesus calls us to do whatever it is, we have no business deciding not to do it. If Jesus tells me categorically not to do whatever the thing is, then I shouldn’t be thinking about doing it. We can rule some things specifically in or out like this.
But, of course, most apparently worthy things to do don’t fall into this sort of territory. The Bible may not specifically tell us not to do it. That is, Jesus doesn’t expect me to do it necessarily. But nor does he tell me not to do it, making it something I am free to do if it seems sensible. But this question is still helpful because if Jesus doesn’t expect me to do this thing, then I am at liberty to say that I won’t do it. After all, you don’t have to say ‘yes’ just because someone asks.
Does my church expect me to do this?
Jonathan Leeman recently said, ‘Just as the Bible establishes the government of your nation as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your citizenship in that nation, so the Bible establishes the local church as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your discipleship to Christ and your citizenship in Christ’s present and promised nation.’ Just as that is true for church members, it is true for pastors too; church elders are answerable to their churches. If your church expects you to be doing something – especially if you agreed to be doing it when you were appointed – then chances are you should be doing it. If your church are deeply uncomfortable with you doing something, chances are you should think seriously about not doing it.