As I’ve been sifting through the stacks on my desk of things to get done, I had a fleeting thought of an opportunity that’s coming up to which I said “No.” I would’ve enjoyed it, to be honest, and at first I considered it a possibility. But as I started to weigh the demands of the opportunity against other commitments and desires, I knew that I just didn’t have time to do it well AND do well with the rest of what I was hoping to accomplish.
So I said “No.”
Today, I’m so glad I did. Maybe that sounds strange; being glad to have said “No” to something. But I’ve found that the number of requests and demands on my time far exceeds my capacity to fulfill those requests. For a long time, I had a hard time saying “No” when these kinds of opportunities came along. I felt like I owed something to the person asking, or that they’d think less of me if I said “No.” I felt like I had to say “Yes” to keep people pleased with me. Maybe you’ve felt that way, too.
But the truth is that if our value to someone else is set by the times we say “Yes” to their requests, then what they really value isn’t us, it’s their own agenda and their own self. Here is your permission to stop trying to please them. You don’t have to say “Yes” to everything.
This doesn’t mean we should just refuse to do whatever we don’t want to do or that we don’t feel like doing. This isn’t about making selfish choices. I have some things that I’ll be doing in the near future that I don’t really want to do, but I need to do them. Even though, I’d rather have said “No” I’m saying “Yes” because there is something to be done that I need to do. You’ll have some of those things, too.
But saying “No” when it’s right allows us to also say “Yes” to open doors that come along. A couple weeks ago, I had a new opportunity come up to which I was glad to say “Yes.” I’m excited to get to do a couple solid days of some youth ministry teaching with college students that will be leading youth ministries for years to come. This opportunity is much more within my area of interest, and while it’s not until October, if I’d said “Yes” to the first request I mentioned, I would’ve been feeling so swamped that I would’ve been a lot more like to have said “No, I just can’t do it.” Or to have said “Yes” and let some other areas of responsibility slide into the background of life. For a lot of people, that means family gets cheated. There’s a cost to saying “Yes.”
What are you saying “No” to lately. Make sure your “Yes” answers aren’t costing you something more important.