By Janet Thompson, Crosswalk.com
“What are you going to give up?” my husband asked when I told him I wanted to enroll in seminary.
I was working full time, had started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, and was the mother of four children with three still at home.
He wasn’t saying I shouldn’t enroll...he was reminding me that I already had time-consuming responsibilities and I needed to think through how I was going to add another major commitment to an already full schedule.
Because I’m the kind of person who enthusiastically tends to think I can take on more than my energy and time would realistically allow, I need my husband’s wise methodical processing to temper my impulsive tendency toward “Yes.”
Saying ‘No’ is a Learned Art
This is a hard-learned lesson that has served me well as an author when I want to say “yes” to fun and worthy opportunities, but my calendar reminds me that I must meet a contracted deadline. Or, my heart reminds me I have a family, a marriage—and most importantly my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—that are my daily priorities.
I can’t be an ambassador for Christ as an author and speaker in my public life, if I don’t spend time with Christ in my private life.
I’ve had to learn the art of saying “no” when everything in me yearns to say “yes.” I need to decline gracefully without the other person receiving my no as an offensive evasion or personal affront and maybe even use it as a witness to Who takes first place in my time management.
First Ask Yourself, ‘Who Am I?’
In the movie Overcomer, a question was presented: If I asked you who you are, what would you say? The other person responded with his career position. The question was asked again, “What if that was taken away. Who are you?” They went through the list of coach, teacher, husband, father, and finally his last answer was “Christian.”
If you were asked that question, what would be your honest first answer? Not the one you think you should say, but what your calendar reveals? Where we spend our time and money is a reflection of what takes priority in our life. It’s a harsh but objective barometer.
We know as Christians we want to keep God as number one in all we do. But a nagging in our spirit reminds us that’s not always true. We want it to be true; but in our overcommitted, overwhelmed, overextended life we must admit: other things crowd God out of that cherished #1 spot.
7 Things to Consider Before Saying ‘Yes’
1. God’s Plans for You
We usually think first about what we want to do...when we could take it to God in prayer instead. Pray and ask God what He wants you to do. Is God saying no? Or, not now? Take your time and wait on clarity and conviction from God.
2. Your Calendar
If you don’t have a calendar, purchase one or use the one on your phone. Before posting any activities or obligations, put in a daily quiet time or Bible study and church attendance. Not job, gym, kids’ activities, recreation, sports, appointments or anything else first. Work everything in your life around time with God, not time with God around everything else.
3. Who or What Will Suffer
Before saying yes to yet another commitment of your time, ask yourself: Will this take away precious time with God, family, responsibilities, or jeopardize my health?
4. Whether You Can Afford To
Is it a good financial decision? Does your budget allow for this expenditure or will you have to work overtime, take on an extra job, maybe miss Sunday morning worship, get a loan, or go into debt?
5. Your Need for Wise Council
Every decision that requires dedication of your time and presence can benefit from seeking wise counsel. This might be your spouse, a trusted friend, or your pastor.
6. Whether Pride is Deceiving You
It’s flattering when we’re invited to or included in something, but consider first if it’s your ego saying yes.
7. Whether it Honors a Commitment
Your ‘yes’ must be a solid ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ a firm ‘no.’ So, if you’ve already said yes, then honor your commitment. But next time, go through these seven steps before answering. When someone asks you to do something or a new opportunity presents itself, there are only two possible responses: Yes or No.
We’ve become conditioned to the pressure of having to justify why we might say no, but no is a justifiable answer. You may feel like you need to give an excuse for ‘no’ but a simple, ‘I truly appreciate you asking me or considering me and this sounds like a great opportunity but at this time I need to say no’ is sufficient.
If you provide a lengthy explanation of why you’re saying no, the other person may feel less worthy or slighted. Sometimes we feel obligated to say yes when it’s not in our best interest. We’re actually putting the other person’s desires for us first.
In the moment, to avoid saying ‘no,’ we may say things like “Maybe. Or, “I’ll try.” Or, “If I can.” Or, “I’ll get back to you,” but then we never give the other person a definitive answer. Those kinds of delayed responses leave people hearing “yes you will” or confused. A committed yes or no is always best.
It’s ok to say let me pray about it, or I need to check my calendar or consult my spouse...but in those cases give a specific timeframe when you will provide an answer and follow through.
As Christians, we want to be accountable and reliable.
Follow these seven steps and enjoy the relief you experience instead of trying to figure out how you’re going to make that “yes” fit into your life’s packed schedule and priorities. Granted there are always times when ‘yes’ is the right answer. Let me just encourage you to be sure you’re saying yes for all the right reasons.
Jesus emphasizes the significance of considering and honoring our responses:
All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37)
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books.Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Janet’s new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faithavailable at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website. She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer;Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoringand About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com. Join Janet on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/nensuria
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Janet’s new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website. She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com. Join Janet on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.