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7 Ways to Say No When You’re Expected to Say Yes

It’s that time of the year.

Sometime soon, if it hasn’t happened already, people will begin to either root in or leave your church.

It can wear you down… even if you attempt to see it all through a healthy metaphor.

needsassessment-resized-600When all is said and done, you’ll likely be asked to either mentor some area of the church or do things outside of what you’ve signed up for.

How do you know when it’s time to say yes? Some things are clearer than others, like if it’s a sin issue or cover up. Other things may need a checklist:

  • If the “ask” is a way God is speaking to you (and you know it).
  • If the “ask” is merely a stretch of your DNA – and not a violation of your DNA.
  • If the “ask” is complementary to what your household presumes you’ve said yes to.
  • If the “ask” is going to further the big picture of something that you do believe in.
  • If the “ask” is from your direct authority/leader and is a part of you being on staff or a part of the team.

The trick will be that many things you’ll be asked to do won’t meet this criteria. You’ll know that the answer is definitely “no,” but you’ll feel all the expectations to say “yes.”

You need to find a God-honoring way to say no to God-honoring things.

I’d like to offer some words you can copy-and-paste into your serving situation that may help you say “no” with a gracious spirit:

  • needsThis really does sound like a great opportunity, but my time is limited to other things right now. I’ll try to think of someone else who can fit this role better than I can.
  • Interesting. I wouldn’t have seen that as something that would naturally fit me. My first reaction is to say no, but I’ll keep this opportunity in mind and keep praying on it as I work on the other things I know I’m definitely wire for. Meanwhile, count this as a pass. Thanks for reaching out on it.
  • One of my favorite things to see is an opportunity for vision to be realized. Unfortunately, I also have a vision God’s put in me that I need to make sure gets realized. If I say yes to your opportunity, I’m afraid I couldn’t also do what I know I need to be doing. Where I can meet you halfway is looking for ways where I can cheer-lead from the sidelines, along with where my area and your area might overlap.
  • I really feel honored that you’d ask me to consider this. I can tell it means a lot to you. For that reason, I wouldn’t want to dishonor what it needs by me saying yes and ultimately not being able to give it what it needs. I hope you can find the best person for this.
  • Wow, this sounds like an incredible idea. My main hurdle in getting involved is equally as important, though. I’ve made a commitment to my family that I likely couldn’t honor if I took this on. Thank you for letting me be honest about this.
  • I don’t think I can really take on the bulk of what you’re proposing, but what I can do is give you a half hour of my time to help you find a solution or a better candidate. Would that work?
  • It’s easy to see why this is a need. Something really does need to happen here. I sense if I step in to fill the gap, though, I’ll be keeping the right person from seeing the actual need. What would happen if we agreed to let this stay vacant for a month and try to recruit toward it instead of either of us doing it ourselves?

You know why this matters, right?

If you say “yes” to things you say “no” to, you’ll ultimately weaken your ability to follow through on the things you should say “yes” to.

So what have you learned in succeeding or failing at doing this?

  • What is a success story?
  • Where do you feel like you’re struggling?

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7 Ways to Say No When You’re Ex...

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