A couple weeks ago, I was asked to speak on very short notice to a Sunday School class at a neighboring church. Bubbling up in my lungs was the sound of my knee-jerk people-pleaser “yes.” But luckily, before it crossed my lips, I was able to edit it into “’Yes’ is what I want to say, but I need to look at another date a little further into the future.”
In the past, it was difficult for me to say “no”. Saying “no” to a request from somebody else rarely makes that person feel good; more often, they feel hurt or let down. Our natural tendency is to “go with the flow” or “don’t make waves.” So we become conflict avoiders … some of us a little, but some of us a lot. You see, one of the things that contributes to our feeling of discomfort is when other people feel bad as a result of our actions or behaviors.
As Christians, this usually gets amplified because we are called to be “peacekeepers” or “peacemakers.” Forgiveness is a fundamental concept and action of our faith. Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek, love our enemies, and give our clothes to a thief. Saying “no” seems like a very un-Christian response to someone in need. However, Jesus also said “no” many times … to the Pharisees, to Satan, to the demon possessed man whom he healed, to the rich young ruler who wanted to follow him but wouldn’t give up his possessions, to the moneychangers in the temple, and to the thief on the cross.
As a psychiatrist and former church elder I have seen many burnt out Christians, both leaders and church members, who seem to think that more is better … who actually believe it is un-Christian to say “no.” Their efforts become scattered and they always seem to be out of steam. But, like that Energizer bunny, they just keep on doing.
Today, before you jump into or continue “doing” the Christian thing … by blindly saying “yes” and adding more to your plate … spend time with God. Pray that you receive both direction and empowerment consistent with His will. In order to know His will … you gotta spend time in His presence. He has a specific plan and purpose for you. You need to be more purposeful in seeking it with Him and from Him. This is not a job or a task, but rather a beautiful and peaceful privilege. Also, dig and decipher why you say “yes” when you know you should be saying “no”. Why are you afraid to say “no”? Learning this answer and correcting it will bring an amazing freedom to your interactions and life! Your decision, choose well.
Dear Gracious and Holy God, I know that You designed a path for my life. I pray, Father, that You reveal this pathway to me … and that You give me the strength and courage to follow it. Help me seek Your approval, not the approval of those who make requests of me. Empower me, Father, and let me see that I am powered by You. Let me not focus my efforts on simply doing more, but let me focus on doing what You want and need of me. Help me today, Lord, to do what is within my ability to further Your Kingdom. I pray in the name of the One You sent to forgive, refresh, and empower me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.