Learn to Say “No”

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. –Jeremiah 6:16

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my journey as a Christian is summed up in two little words you’ve heard before: “yes” and “no.” Christians tend to use “yes” a lot, but “no“, not so much. I want to challenge you to say no more often so you can say yes to the things that matter most.

While saying no results in many personal benefits, it’s a difficult word for many Christians to utter because Christian culture values yes. We learn to say yes because we want to please others–it just seems so Christian–and we don’t want to let people down, risk others thinking less of us, or become the target of disappointment or anger.

Does this sound like you? Do you want people to really like you? Do you dwell on it when you learn someone is angry with you? Can you identify with the “logic” that says, “I am a Christian, I care about people, and I’m supposed to help others–so when asked I must figure out a way to say yes at all times?” If so, welcome to my club! Actually, I’m trying to cancel my membership and after many years of fighting, I’m almost out of the club. I think my speech goes something like this: “Hi. I’m Doug, and I’m addicted to busyness, people-pleasing, saying yes and the belief that my busyness is a unique season that will soon end.” Okay, that’s me in pursuit of health and recovery. So, if this is you too, I know how difficult it is to read this and even consider adding more no’s to your responses.

Think about it: is busyness really getting you what you want–or need? In the end, busyness makes us feel important but cripples our relationships. Busyness feeds our egos, but ultimately starves our souls. Busyness fills our calendars, but fractures our families. And busyness props up our images but shrinks our hearts.

Is there a gnawing sense in your gut that you can’t keep up the pace–and in your heart-of-hearts you don’t want to? Good! Take a deep breath and let’s go after some hope. You may be at a crossroads in your life and learning to say no is exactly what you need. You need to learn to say no to the many good things and wonderful people so you’ll have space to say yes to God, yes to the important people in your life, yes to what matters most. So I want to challenge you now: in today’s Scripture, we read, “ask where the good way is, and walk in it…” In this case, the “good way” is saying no–have the courage to walk in it and find rest for your soul.

GOING DEEPER:
1. Do you say no enough? Why or why not?

2. What can you say no to this week that will enable you to say yes to something that matters most?

FURTHER READING:
1 Corinthians 6:12

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields

Doug is the senior director of HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Doug speaks to thousands of leaders, teens and parents each year. He teaches youth ministry at APU, and provides leadership and resources as a part of the Youth Specialties Team. He has authored 50 books and blogs at Download Youth Ministry. Doug, Cathy and their three children live in Southern California.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns and supported by Doug Fields, HomeWord and Azusa Pacific University have partnered to form The HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Learn More »

  • About Azusa Pacific University

    APU is a leading Christian college ranked as one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Located near Los Angeles in Southern California, APU is a Christian university offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master's, doctoral, and degree completion programs, both on campus and online. Learn More »

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