Column: Importance of the right hat

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
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Recently I texted somebody on a Saturday. They replied on the Monday with profuse apologies explaining that they turn their phone off over the weekend.

I felt that there was no need for any apology. Here was somebody putting on a ‘No’ hat, which in my book signifies maturity and a certain degree of integrity.

Such people don’t just tag along with the latest trends. They live in accordance with values that are more important than everything else.

I believe we are sold a lie when we are told by motivational speakers to always say yes.

And that trying something new is always a good idea. The danger is that you risk falling victim to any old whim. So much of our accelerating culture deserves to be renounced but it often takes integrity to say a simple ‘no’.

Often, of course, it is not quite as clear cut as either yes or no. We also need a ‘Maybe’ hat, a ‘Doubt’ hat and a ‘Hesitation’ hat!

I accept that there are often powerful reasons to put on the Yes hat. There is the social fear of not being sufficiently enterprising or ‘on the ball’.

We are urged to wear the Yes hat because life is finite and we are supposed to think that it is important to make the most of it.

But saying yes in our accelerating culture comes at a price. For a start, it can easily destroy peace of mind. I think Jesus expresses something about the value of standing firm with a No hat when he said, “Enter through the narrow gate.

For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

My friend’s ‘no’ to me was actually a ‘yes’ to his family. His example poses the question, what unnecessary stuff can we cut out?

How can we say no with a smile and focus on the essence of what we feel called to do?