It’s fair to say that you have more to do and more that you would like to get done than you possibly have enough time in the day to accomplish. It’s probably also fair to say that you entertain requests on a regular basis to add important events and meetings to your schedule. And just when you think you cannot add anything else to your do to list you’ll receive a phone call or an email asking if you could just add one more thing.
There will be times when you have to say “no.” But what if you could say “no” in a way that edifies and fosters Christlikeness?
Here are four ways;
- Understand what you are being asked. Often the message behind the request of your presence, attention and action is affirmation. There have been times when I have been asked to be apart of something that really didn’t need my attention but the one asking needed both affirmation that they were doing a good thing for the kingdom and some council to help them get what they wanted to get done accomplished. By reflecting back on what I was being asked to do, I was able to affirm that they were heard and point them in the right direction. A good coach tells their players both that they can succeed and how to succeed.
- Affirm what can be affirmed. There are times when you should not say “yes.” There are times when what you are being asked goes against sound doctrine and church practice. Yet the one making the request may have the purest motives to glorify God. That needs to be affirmed. I had a request once to create and waive banners during our worship service. This was not going to work as a practice in our context. In the conversation responding to the request I clearly said, “I understand the request, but we are not going to do this.” I was able to affirm their desire to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth, while still holding to the appropriate practices of our local church. I affirmed what could be affirmed.
- Share what you can do. When you can, and not every situation allows for this, say, “no, I cannot do that but what I can do is this.” You could pray for them, encourage them, point them in the right direction for resources, or even listen to them again at a different season. When there is something that you can affirm clearly say “no” and then share what you can do.
- Pray for them in that moment—do not wait until later. Whether in a restaurant, in your study, or on the phone, wherever it may be, pray with them immediately. Every situation demands the wisdom of the Lord. Together go to the throne and ask for wisdom in what to do within the boundaries of His will recognizing the limits of time and resources available to both of you but not to Him.
To be most effective for the kingdom there will be more things you will need to say more to than yes. When you can say “no” in a way that affirms and teaches, the kingdom is greatly served.