Choosing the Best Over the Good | Ashley Varner
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Choosing the Best Over the Good

It’s time to choose the best over the good. All this month, we’re talking about learning to say no. But learning to say no isn’t just about saying no to bad things, but saying no to things that may be good, but aren’t the best.

Info from the Show

  • Being wise about the way you spend your time
  • Being wise about the way you spend your money
  • Choosing the best over the good still involves choosing.
  • Saying no to everything isn’t the answer
  • One thing you don’t have to pray about






Welcome. Welcome back my friends to The Graceful Life Podcast. I am your host, Ashley Varner, and I am excited for April. All of this month, we are going to be talking about learning how to say no, and I wanted to start off by jumping right in and talking to you about the fact that learning to say no isn’t just about saying no to bad things, but it might be even be saying no to things that might be good, but aren’t the best, so that’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode of The Graceful Life Podcast.

Before we get started, I just want to say thank you. Thank you so much for being here. I have loved the last few months with this podcast and just speaking from my heart to you and sharing my heart, and so for all of you who have been downloading episodes and listening and my faithful subscribers, I just want to say thank you so much. It means so much to me that you want to grow in Christ with me, and I am so honored that you are here, so let’s jump right in.

We have to learn how to say no, and that involves a lot of different areas of our lives, things that we’re going to be talking about in the next few weeks, but like I said just a little bit ago, today we’re going to be talking about choosing the best over the good.

There’s a couple of different areas of our lives where we have to choose the best over the good, and the first is being wise about the way that we spend our time. You’ve heard me say this over and over, that we have to live intentional lives. We have to be specific and live on purpose if we really want to move forward in our walk with the Lord. If we want to grow in Christ, if we want to reach new heights in our relationship with him, then we have to be intentional, and that just boils down to being intentional about our time, so I just want you to take a second and think about the way that you spend your time.

How do you spend time in entertainment? Think about the kind of music that you listen to, the movies that you watch, the books that you read or listen to, in my case, I love audio books, but I want you to really consider the types of entertainment that you’re putting into your mind because it makes a huge difference in the way that you live anytime that you are.

I wanted to share a really quick example of this that I remember even from a sermon when I was a teenager. The speaker had a bucket sitting on the stage, and he said, “You know, if I fill this bucket up with rocks, when it tips over, what’s going to come out?” Rocks. Duh. If you fill it up with water, then water will come out when it’s tipped over. If you fill it up with grass or dirt or whatever, once it’s tipped over, whatever is inside is what’s going to come out, and so, whenever you are filling your mind with a certain kind of music and you’re watching certain kind of movies and television shows and you’re reading books, whenever your life is shaken up, whenever it feels like your bucket is tipped over, that’s what’s going to come out, so think about that.

Are you listening to Christian music? Are you listening to worship music, or are you listening to music that has a lot of language in it or has a lot of suggestive dialogue in it? Be really specific and intentional about what kind of music that you put into your mind.

I know, for myself, I was watching an episode on Amazon Prime. We don’t have Netflix, but we have Amazon Prime, and I was watching this television show that got increasingly worse and worse, and I thought, “You know what? This is not something that I want to put into my mind. This is not something I’m going to watch,” and so I stopped watching it and I started filling my mind with worship music, and whenever I woke up in the morning, we had worship music on and, while we were getting ready or in the evenings when I was preparing dinner, we have worship music on in the car, and it made such a huge difference in my life.

Even if the music that you’re listening to isn’t necessarily bad, maybe it’s fine, but is it the best that you could be listening to? Same thing with movies. Are they the best that you could be watching? Or books, is that the best type of content that you could be reading at the time?

It seems like there’s nothing wrong with this music or this book, but we really want to choose the best over the good, and that involves the way that we spend our time. The same thing with social media. Whenever you’re looking at social media and you’re spending your time there, are you spending your time looking at the endless threads that have political conflict and harsh words and things like that? I know I can get kind of sucked into that sometimes, and I think, “You know what? This isn’t even the best way for me to spend my time on social media. Let’s, instead, maybe watch a video of a random act of kindness or something like that.” I mean, there are so many different things you can choose where you can choose the best over the good.

Even think about as far as spending your time. How much time do you spend in the morning over sleeping? I know that, for myself, recently, I was sick and I was in bed and didn’t wake up earlier, but most of the time, I’m waking up pretty early in the morning and really saying yes to the best over the good, so is it good to sleep in? Sure, I would love that extra couple of hours or half an hour or whatever it is, but what’s best? What’s best for me? It is waking up early and making sure I have my quiet time with the Lord, making sure that I’m moving my body, making sure that I’m kind of preparing my day appropriately, so I can choose waking up early over sleeping in by choosing the best over the good in the way that we spend our time.

We’ve talked about the way that we spend our time and, to be honest, most of you have probably heard that before, you know that it’s good to choose better music or better movies or better things on social media, but what about being wise about the way that you spend your money? This might seem a little bit backwards, but I want you to consider that you might not be spending money on the best things even though they might cost a little bit more.

This isn’t necessarily about spending less money, but it’s about being more wise about the way that you spend your money, so think about food quality. Is it cheaper to buy some boxed meal or canned vegetables over fresh vegetable? Probably cheaper, to be honest, but is that wise? Are you really choosing the best over the good? Are you choosing your food based on the fact that it’s fresh, based on the fact that it’s healthier for you, or are you just picking up something that is okay, but it’s not really the best? I think in this country, we definitely have an issue with not putting a value on healthy foods as far as like high quality foods just because they might be more expensive, so consider that.

Another perfect example of this. Last year, when my oldest son was in kindergarten and my younger son was in preschool, I thought, “You know what? Their feet grow so much. I’m going to get them, you know, the cheaper $10 shoes and, you know, probably, by the time the wear them out, then they’ll be the next size up and we’ll just go in that direction.” I bought, I believe, six pairs of shoes per child that year because they just wore out so quickly, and, this year, we kind of went in a different direction.

I decided to spend a little bit more on shoes, get a little bit better quality of shoes because I thought, “You know, if these shoes are falling apart like this, what kind of support is that giving their little feet? You know, what kind of … If they are stepping on rocks, is it hurting their feet, and is it helping their feet to grow correctly,” and so, this year, we decided to spend a little bit more money, get a better quality shoe for my children and I still … At the middle of the year, this semester, I bought another pair of shoes for each of them because they were getting worn out and they were getting kind of too small for the boys, but, instead of buying six pairs, I only bought two pairs of shoes, and my boys weren’t complaining about feeling a rock in their sole over their shoe and things like that.

Sometimes, we have to spend a little bit more in order to get a better quality, and then we end up maybe saying money in the long run, and I think that it’s all about choosing the best over the good. Now, was I going way out of control and spending like hundreds of dollars on a shoe? No, of course, not, but I was being more intentional about choosing the best for my child over just the good or even the bad, so when you think about the way that you spend your money, think about quality over quantity.

If you get six shirts that are maybe five bucks versus getting one shirt that’s $30 that is going to last you a little bit longer, or you could take that up to whatever you’re … however much you spend on clothes, but it’s really just about choosing quality over quantity, and I want to be really clear about the fact that choosing the best over the good still involves choosing, so saying no to everything isn’t the answer, and I want to give a specific example of this.

It’s especially in serving. You do not have to pray about serving in your local church or serving the Lord in whatever aspect. That’s what we’re called to do on this earth. That’s what God wants us to do. He wants us to serve other people. He came as the servant of all, and he wants us to do the same thing, and so you don’t really have to pray about that, but you can be wise about it.

There is a perfect example of this in my life recently. I felt that it was time to let go of a particular ministry, but I stayed involved. I jumped in and … I let go of it for a little bit, and then came back in when I saw a need and I stayed involved. Later, probably a couple of months after this, another need came up, and I was tied. My hands were tied behind my back. It was a need that I could have met very well. It fit perfectly with my focus and with my vision for ministry in my life and it fits the talents that I have been given by the Lord, and there was very people that could fill this position. I couldn’t jump in right away because my plate was so full.

Looking back now, I realized that the reason why I felt like it was time to let go of the first ministry was because God wanted me ready and available to take on this new ministry. It wasn’t that I was just going to say no because I didn’t want to serve or I wanted time off. It wasn’t anything like. I just felt like I should let it go, and I didn’t.

Once I looked at that and I prayed about it, and nothing was happening with this new need, no one was meeting the need, like I said, this particular need there was very few people that could kind of fit into this position, so to speak, this volunteer position, and I watched for months with nothing happening with this need that I felt such a burning in my heart just growing every single day. I would see it and think, “Something needs to be done about this,” and so it got to the point where I had to say no to the first commitment that I had made in order to choose the better choice.

That doesn’t mean that you have to say no to everything and jump into something better. It’s not that you’re always looking for something better, but it’s about praying and being wise about where you serve, so, if you find yourself always saying no, then I want you to consider this fact. You won’t ever be able to choose the best if you never choose at all, so make sure to ask God for help.

This is something that I tell people all the time. Whenever there’s a struggle happening in their life or they don’t know what to do, I tell them, “Look, we are not doing life alone.” That is one thing. I look at unbelievers and I think, “How do they do it?” They’re not really, but I think, “How can they even stand up every day without the strength of God pulling them forwards?” because I don’t know where I would be without the Lord. I don’t know what kind of person I would be. I would probably be deep in a depression. I would probably be definitely not in the place that I’m in right now serving or anything like that.

I want you to realize that you’re not doing this alone. When you have Christ in your life, you have access to the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, and God is ready and waiting to help you if you just ask him, and so, if you’re not sure, if you say, “You know what, Lord, I really want to make better use of my time,” or, “I really want to make better use of my money, but I want to be wise about it,” once you start hearing his voice, once you start reading his word and cultivating that relationship with him, you’re going to see that he will show up and he will show you what you need, and you can ask him for help, and he is ready and willing to give it.

I am excited to talk to you more in the future weeks about learning how to say no to certain things in your life, and I want you to consider this first episode of the month that you can’t choose the best if you’re not ever choosing, so it’s not even about saying no to the wrong things, but it’s about saying no to those things so that you can say yes to the right things.

I hope that this encouraged you. I can’t wait to talk to you next week, and I will see you soon.

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