“Prayer finds its source in God's holiness and it is at the same time our response to this holiness.”
Pope St. John Paul II
Recently, I was facilitating a meeting for a parish and we were brainstorming who the best parishioners would be to lead an exciting new initiative. We first spent some time drafting our ideal criteria for the volunteers in question and then I stood at a whiteboard and invited the folks around the table to throw out names that came to mind based on the criteria. As I wrote a name someone would critique the choice. "Oh yeah she’s great, but she has 2 young children, she can’t do something like this," one person said. "I like him a lot, but the last time we asked him to do something, he said he was really busy with work." Heads nodded. "I don’t know. She travels a lot." As I looked at my empty whiteboard, I turned to the team and asked how often they played the lottery. They looked puzzled. "Well, you seem very confident about predicting the future."
As I drove home, I thought about how many decisions were being made for other people in that discussion. My frustration lessened as I was honest with myself and recalled the many times in the last few weeks alone that I had given someone else’s no. In my leadership, how often do I determine someone else’s answer before I even pose the question to them? Even with the best intentions, what opportunities am I denying the people I lead or love by not taking the risk of asking? In my relationship with the Lord, do I try to keep my real needs hidden because am I sure the answer is no, or rather because I am afraid it might actually be yes? Fortunately for us, God’s invitation is always open and He’ll wait for our yes.