You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”?
2 Corinthians 1:17 (NLT)
I recently had a conversation with a client who spent two weeks doing business in China. When I asked him how the trip went, he gave me a look of utter frustration. “I spent the entire time thinking things were going great,” he reported. “Then after I returned home and began following up I discovered that when a person in China nods their head ‘yes,’ and smiles what they really mean is ‘no.'”
I thought of my client and his frustration this morning when I read the opening to Paul’s letter to the Jesus followers in the city of Corinth. I guess Paul and the gang had their own frustrations with people who say “yes” but really mean “no.” And, I get it. Having organized and led countless volunteer projects over the years there is nothing more annoying than to have someone commit to something only to find out they never truly intended to follow through.
The further I get in life’s journey, the more I’ve come to appreciate being honest and straightforward in my answers. I am a people pleaser, so it’s easy for me to hedge and give a “maybe” or “I might” so as not to disappoint someone in the moment. But, I’ve come to learn that putting off a simple answer such as, “Thank you for asking, but I’m going to say ‘no,'” only serves to leave the “maybe” or the “kinda said ‘yes'” hanging over me for days or weeks or months like this cloud of unfinished business. In the end I will likely create even more disappointment (because they thought I might do it all along) and I will also create frustration and annoyance (because they expected or chose to hear a ‘yes‘ only to be told ‘no‘ at the last minute).
Today, I’m pondering Jesus’ instruction to make simple honesty part of daily life: “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no,'” He taught. As I begin the journey through another week, I’m reminded that in business, in relationships, in community, and in life I need to make my answers to others simple, honest, and straightforward.