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Why Learning To Say NO Is A Good Thing

Learning to say No is hard. But, I’ve discovered that learning to say No, even to “good things,” is a good thing.

In fact, it’s a very good and essential thing for church Web workers.

How learning to say No saved my life

Growing up, I was taught that you said Yes to “nice” or “good” things, and No to “bad” or “evil” things.

As a young military enlistee, I was taught saying Yes signaled obedience and submission. Those were good things.

Soldiers who said No were looking for trouble.

After the military, the civilian workforce taught me that agreeable, cooperative, team players said Yes.

People who wanted to get fired said No.

I learned that saying Yes pleased people. And, so I learned to be a people-pleaser.

Then, after months of being overwhelmed, overworked, and suffering from a sudden and severe bout of headaches and dizziness, I was diagnosed as being dangerously close to having a stroke.

I was 28 years old.

My doctor told me that if I didn’t immediately make some major changes in my life, I would likely not live to see 30.

That was my kick-start.  It wasn’t easy, but my life quite literally depended on my learning to say No.

Learning to say No as a Christ-follower

Later, after God rescued me, I was eager to learn all I could about what living this new life in Christ meant.

It didn’t take long to discover that the word Yes is just as highly valued in the Church.

As with the civilian workforce, saying Yes in the Church often brands you as an agreeable, cooperative, team player.

In fact, some will even judge your spiritual maturity and level of commitment to the cause of Christ based on how often you say Yes.

In other words, the more requests you say Yes to, the more highly esteemed you are as a selfless servant of Christ.

When it comes to “church work,” we humans can attach great piety to the word Yes. But, that’s not how God judges our commitment and work in Christ.

What a comfort to know that I’m neither expected nor required to say Yes to every human request made of me!

Learning to say No as a church Web worker

For church Web workers, saying No can be especially difficult.

Websites need our regular, ongoing attention if they are to be fashioned into the effective ministry tools we want them to be.

I wonder if you’re like me. I’ve got lots of hopes, dreams, and ideas for my church’s website.

And, then there are all those requests (and sometimes demands) from leaders and members of your local assembly.

I don’t get very many of those, but maybe you do.

With all of the good things we can and want to be doing with our websites, it’s easy to get over-extended and overwhelmed with the work of our ministry.

But, we’re not required to say Yes to every request. Nor is our every idea and desire for the site profitable or needful.

Hard work can bring glory to God. Ministry burnout—not so much.

So what’s the solution? Where’s the balance?

It’s simple: learn to say No to the “right” good things.

How to know what good things to say No to

I was encouraged by Yvon Prehn’s insight about how learning to say No can actually free us up to follow our Lord’s example.

In her Devotions for Church Communicators, Yvon reminds us that Jesus said No to many things and many people. At all times, His chief concern was to do what His Father wanted Him to do (Matthew 26:39; Luke 2:49; John 4:34, 5:30).

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“I tell you the truth,” he continued, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.

Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:24-27).

One of the hardest words to say when you are involved in church communication is “no.” One of the hardest words to say when you are involved in church communication is “no.”

[framed_box align=”right”][/framed_box] There is always another project to be done, always someone you could help by putting together a flyer, newsletter, or web project for them. There is always a way to do a project better, a better photograph, or illustration, or clip art we know we can find if we just take the time to search. But we need to follow our Lord’s example and learn to say “no.”

It is never easy. After Jesus shared these words the people of his hometown tried to kill him. Hopefully the reaction to our refusal to do a project or to make another revision won’t be quite as harsh, but we shouldn’t be surprised at negative reactions.

What makes it difficult is that we have to learn to say “no” to good things. For many of us in the Christian life, we’ve spent so much time learning to say “no” to evil. Learning to say “no” to something that is good and needed—that’s tough.

What a good example Jesus is for us here. There were many things he said “no” to—people he didn’t heal, places he didn’t go to preach, and people he didn’t go after.

What he did do was his Father’s will. He knew only his Father had the big picture and knew exactly what Jesus needed to do to accomplish that plan. Jesus could say “no” in peace because he spent intense and intimate time with God.

Time with God, confirming his will for us, is the only way to determine what good things we must say “no” to in our lives and church communication ministries.

This post is an excerpt from Devotions for Church Communicators, by Yvon Prehn. It’s one of my “go-to” devotionals when I thirst for perspective and encouragement while performing the work entrusted to me.

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Jesus didn’t say Yes to everything and everyone. Nor does God our Father.

His desire is for us to be wise, to try to understand what He wants us to do, and to follow His example in everything we do (Ephesians 5:1, 15-17).

He neither expects nor demands that we say Yes to everything and everyone.

And, that’s a good thing.