Learning to Say “Yes, But…”

I remember the conversation clear as day. I was working in my office at church when my pastor & our might as well have been staff volunteer walked in. “We have an idea!” they said with more than their usual excitement.

One sentence into sharing this idea my pastor stopped.

“Before I tell you what we’re thinking, I want to say this: I don’t need you tell me we can’t do it or why it’s not possible. I need you to figure out what we need to do to make it happen.”

Pretty sure my defenses went up & an argument followed. Looking back; however, I see the constructive criticism he was trying to give me: Filter before you give feedback. Stop being an idea squasher & instead figure out how to make ideas a reality. 

It wasn’t that he didn’t think I was creative or resourceful enough to make his vision come to life. Quite the opposite. But he needed me to believe in the vision enough to do the work to make it come to life. He needed me to be a solution finder not just a problem identifier. He was trying to help me see that I’d get a lot further in life if I learned how to say “yes, but…” rather than “no,” all of the time.

Apparently that lesson was an important one because it still sticks with me. That voice still plays in my head every time I’m asked to give feedback. And can I tell you, it makes a difference? “No” often raises defenses, “yes” on the other hand often raises respect. And saying yes is choosing to fight the problem as a team rather than fighting against the team about the problem. And I’d rather fight side by side with people than against them.

It’s taken me two & a half years & a lot of growth but I emailed that pastor, who I’m still honored to call a friend, the other night & thanked him. Thanked him for a lesson that 23 year old me may not have received or wanted but one that 26 year old me is deeply grateful for.

How do you respond when someone shares an idea with you?

Don’t Just Be Here to Be Here


In high school one of my favorite movies was “Save the Last Dance.” (Okay, so maybe I can still recite it line by line when I watch it.)

There’s a scene where good friends Chenile & Sarah are sitting in the waiting room of a free clinic having a conversation about “different worlds.” The room is full of sick screaming kids like Chenile’s son and young parents who are at their wits end as they wait to see a doctor.  At one point Chenile says to Sarah:

“You wanna be a friend? Don’t just be here to be here. Open up your pretty brown eyes & look the hell around.” 

“Don’t just be here to be here.”

Don’t go through life half asleep, wake up.  Don’t stay numb, feel. Don’t just survive, thrive. Don’t just look, see. 

In our always on, always running, uber-connected world it’s easy to just be here. All of the noise makes it hard for the eyes of my heart & soul to see the grace in every moment. And on those days when my heart & soul are having trouble seeing, I’m particularly grateful for eyes that lead me to worship, eyes that can help me to slow time if I will open them up & look around…if I will choose to see.

It’s the discipline of seeing…of opening up my eyes & looking around…that helps me to do more than just be here to be here. It’s what helps me to be fully present in any given moment. I have to train my eyes to slow me down, to cause me to pause and soak in the beauty that surrounds me, to take the time to see people & to make people feel seen, to see God’s goodness in every moment of the good days & the bad.

What habits & disciplines help you do more than simply be here? 

Easter Media You Can Use All Year

I love any opportunity to boast about my friends :) Honestly, their talents are quite humbling. My friends at Playback Media are just some of them. They’ve just released their new Sacred Pack just in time for Easter. A collection of reverent visuals perfect for this season but which also can be used year round. Fun to see this product available for purchase after critiquing it many a Saturday sitting at the local Starbucks with Luke.

You can check out all of the details here on their site. The best part: for a limited time you can get 10% off this bundle if you use the code “cautiouscreative” when you purchase this new collection of visuals!!

Throwback Sundays…Another Kind of Resurrection

But my pastor also pointed out something else that hit hard: Jesus let Lazarus die before he raised him. He could have healed from his sickness before he died. But He didn’t. You see, while God is the ultimate healer He is also in the business of restoration. And oftentimes that means death before new life. Resurrection simply cannot occur without death. It’s impossible. (full post here)

Even though the whole idea of death before life is still hard to swallow at times it also still gives me comfort. Comfort in the death knowing that new life is on the other side.