indecisiveWhen you talk to different One Year Challenge sites about possibly coming to help for a year, you might want to think twice before saying you are “keeping your options open.”

This is common lingo many people use in relationships, job searches and sometimes, in volunteer projects like the One Year Challenge.

But it often has a chilling effect on the conversation (in all these life situations, not just for One Year Challenge). It conveys that the focus of the conversation, for you at least, is “options” not committment.

So, what if you aren’t ready to make a committment? Here are some suggestions that might work better than “I’m keeping my options open”:

(1) Let the site leader know that you aren’t able to commit to a specific site yet, and why. What are you trying to determine? Costs? Ministry fit? Need more input from your ministry leader? In other words, focus on what you need to do to make the decision, not on keeping your options open.

(2) Thank the person you are talking to for their help in the decision process. Site leaders are busy people–when you say “I’m keeping my options open” they are likely to think, “Wow, I just spent a lot of time talking with someone who is reluctant to make a decision.”

(3) Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Ever been to a job interview and the interviewer concludes with “I don’t want to promise you anything now since we’re keeping our options open as to whether we hire you or someone else.”? Hopefully, not! But imagine how you would feel if someone said that. It’s fine to be honest, but wouldn’t you rather hear something like, “Thanks for your time. We’ll finish interviewing for this position in about two weeks and will be able to let you know something by then.”

(4) If you really have decided, let them know! Saying “I’m keeping my options open” as a way to avoid saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t think this is the place I would like to go” may feel less awkward, but leaves things up in the air for the person you just spoke with. If you are really closing down this particular option, say so! The site leader will appreciate your honesty.

God bless you as you work through this big decision. Along the way, try to make your communication with different site leaders honest, respectful and encouraging.