In the Midst of Busyness, Stop, Drop, and Roll

Since my retirement, I have come to understand how easy it is to slip into a cycle of busy activity. Much of this activity stems from the creativity and needs of others. Suddenly, I do not have the constraint of Monday through Friday employment to prevent my “yes” response. So, when I’m invited to participate—from luncheons to a ministry opportunity—I have no reason to decline. My calendar can quickly fill up!

Not everyone is retired. In fact, many women leaders strive to balance work outside the home and their family obligations. But I believe the principle of making choices about involvement holds true for the unemployed (or retired) as well as the working woman with or without family responsibilities.

How to choose? Perhaps there’s some guidance in an unlikely place. The fire safety technique taught to children—stop, drop, and roll—may help direct our decision-making.


When an invitation for participation is offered—be it simple volunteer service, a fellowship outing, an ongoing ministry, leadership in an organization, a spiritual growth opportunity, or a missions trip—stop and take a moment to think about the implications of involvement. Don’t be hesitant to ask for additional time to think about the commitment. Is it a one-time opportunity? Does the activity appeal to you? Do your gifts and skills “fit” the requirements of the leadership challenge? Will the person who’s inviting you also participate? Have you ever done something like this before? Will this activity push you outside of your comfort zone and perhaps lead to personal growth? Are you being influenced by the enthusiasm of the one inviting you to participate? Will you have “buyer’s remorse” after a few weeks of involvement?


After pondering the opportunity for a period of time, assess the level of busyness in the current schedule of your daily life. Is there room for this new opportunity? Will you have to drop your involvement in another area of your life in order to make room for this new opportunity? If you do drop an activity (such as your daily health walk, for example), will you resent the exchange after a few weeks? Could rearranging some elements of your current schedule allow time for this new venture? Do you believe this is an opportunity that may be providential and therefore worth the effort?


If your prayer and thinking have led you to believe that this is a good path of involvement for you, make the commitment. Clarify how long you envision being involved and be honest in making that known. “I’m happy to help until school is out,” for example. Be conscientious in keeping this commitment, even if you don’t receive a salary for your efforts. Your influence upon others who observe your involvement is significant. Younger leaders can be inspired to get involved by seeing how you fulfill your role.

Joyce Mitchell, retired WMU leadership development staff member, is the author of Soul Spa and TeamsWork!

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