The day we say yes to God and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives is a significant turning point. It’s natural that we look forward to the big “yes” moments in our lives, like saying yes to a wedding proposal or a great job offer.

On the other hand, we generally don’t enjoy having to say no to people. We often struggle in declining an invitation to an event or denying someone’s request for help because we don’t want to appear harsh or unloving. We obviously can’t say yes to every request that comes our way without overextending ourselves. But learning to say no to people doesn’t have to be a negative, stressful experience.

Open Doors

Every one of us is a steward of our time; the question is, how good of a steward are we? Stewardship involves the ability to manage our time, and that involves learning to saying no. This is especially important when we are working long hours, busy at home with children, newly married and trying to get time with our spouse, or dating and talking to people online. In these and other situations, saying no can be quite challenging.

But saying no to something doesn’t necessarily mean we are closing a door; it may just mean that we are indirectly saying a resounding yes to something else, like yes to time with our family or periods of much needed rest. It also means you’re saying yes to allowing others to come into the picture who may more adequately help the person in need.

Learning How To Say No

If you struggle to turn down all those invitations or requests for help, it’s time to practice saying no. Here’s how:

  1. Begin graciously. You can still show empathy for someone’s needs while declining to be involved. Your tone of voice can reveal kindness even when you have to deny someone what they are asking for. “I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing that, but I won’t be able to assist you at this time.”
  2. Modulate your voice. A firm no is spoken with a low, controlled calm voice. This signifies that you are sure of what you are saying, but you are also aware of the delicacy of the situation. You want to respond with firmness and not with a question mark at the end, which would suggest that you are not sure if you should say no. It’s better to speak your no as a statement of fact.
  3. Speak confidently. There’s no shame in saying no to someone at the time of their request. And no is not necessarily saying never. This time may have to be a no, but there may be time in the future for you to answer with a yes. More importantly, keep in mind the priorities and family needs that you also have to attend to, and be confident that you are carrying out God’s will in being faithful in these other matters.
  4. Resist a savior complex. For many of us, we can start to take on a savior complex and feel that the situations around us won’t go well unless we are somehow involved. We need to remember that we are part of the body of Christ. There are others who have unique gifts and even the longing to help others in the very area that you may have to say no to.

Listen To Your Calling

In my case, I feel called to make time for spiritually counseling couples and individuals who are going through times of crisis, and I make time for these requests. Often, when I’ve willingly spent an hour on the phone with someone, they will end the conversation with an apology for taking up my time. I reassure them that when I said, “Yes, I have time to talk with you,” I meant it. In many cases, the reason I can spend that time helping others in crisis is because I said no to other requests that I didn’t feel called to meet.

Be encouraged that saying no does not have to mean you have failed or permanently hurt someone. Helping others and serving them joyfully in love is ultimately your goal when you say no to the things you aren’t called to deal with or able to respond to. The holy “no” can be part of a life of Christ, and may even make you more effective when the requests come that you can confidently say yes to.

You may also be interested in How Being Too Busy Can Hurt Your Relationship With God

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