I Really Ought to No

“I’ve done it again.”

Looking over my calendar this past week I didn’t see much white space—one thing was stacked on top of another with no breathing room in between. I could feel myself being squeezed. My problem: I had said “yes” to too many things when I really ought to have said a thoughtful, prayerful “no.” My other problem is that in saying yes to too many things I became frustrated, resentful, regretful, and scratchy with the people I love.

Do you ever do that? Please tell me you do.

Consider Your Yes

I’ve just finished a deep dive into Psalm 90—penned by Moses—and it’s filled with several of my favorite verses, like this one: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I’ve personalized it and prayed it nearly every day for decades—wanting to live wisely and make the most of the time I’ve been gifted to be alive on this earth for the Lord. Wisdom is knowing when to say yes, and when to say no—and getting the Lord’s input and approval on whatever it is. So, if you need wisdom, ask God, who gives it generously…and it will be given to you (James 1:5).

Here’s the thing, everything we say yes to is ultimately saying no to something else. And that begs the question: What am I saying no to, if I say yes to this? Consider carefully and prayerfully what you give your yes to and why. What will saying yes add to your life or take away from your life? What impact or strain will it have on your present responsibilities and obligations—your family, work, spiritual life, and health?

Is it an Asking or a Calling?

Sometimes we say yes too quickly to the good things we’ve been asked to do just because they’re good things; they’re God-centered things, things that are worthwhile, benevolent, and beneficial. But an asking is not a calling. So, when we’re asked, we must pause, take a breath, and seek the Lord’s counsel; and ask him if this is an opportunity he’s presenting us with or a distraction. Even when it resonates with your spiritual gifts or your calling, the God-thing you’re being asked to do may not be the God-thing that God is asking you to do. So, ask him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Why do we say yes when we ought to say no?

When we say yes to every request, every invitation, every social engagement, every trip, every party, every board…something will suffer. And it’s usually something important, something that truly matters.

Our first and best yes is to be to Jesus…our first calling is to him, to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23). Following Jesus means that sometimes…often, we will have to say no to something or someone else that perhaps holds more sway over us, or is more exciting and popular…and everybody else is saying yes to it, and so must I. And that’s a trap—it’s called the fear of missing out (FOMO). The fear of missing out is a fear of man issue. The Bible reminds us that the fear of man is a trap…a snare, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:35). It manifests in people-pleasing, compromising our values, submitting to peer-pressure…and needing the affirmation of others more than we need or want the affirmation of God. Those are some of the red flags to look for when we’re about to say yes to anything.

Ask yourself if you’re saying yes because: you don’t want to miss out, or because you feel obligated, or you’ll let somebody down, or because if you say no, you might not get asked again.

Saying No for a Better Yes

I was asked to sit on a very prestigious board of directors for a very worthwhile organization that I dearly love and have supported their cause for many years. I didn’t say yes or no right away. I thanked the group for asking me to join their board, and asked if they could give me a couple of days to think and pray over it and talk to my husband about it—my 3 failsafe’s when it comes to making a wise yes or no decision.

If I said yes, I knew I would enjoy the commitment because I already loved the organization and I had many friends actively involved in it. Because of those friends, I also knew the obligation I would be committing myself to—it would require much time, thought, and energy—and I was concerned how that would pull my focus away from the main things in my life, the things I know God has called me to first.

After I thought about it, prayed about it, and talked with John, I decided to say No to this good, God-centered opportunity. My no came with a lot of inner peace; and the organization graciously understood and respected my decision. Ultimately, I knew I could say yes, but if I did, many other things—the things God has called me to—would suffer.

❤️ Something to Think About

Saying no, is not being mean. Giving a thoughtful, prayerful “no” is one of the most godly and healthy responses you can give when you’re asked to do something, go somewhere, take a responsibility… etc. For me, saying no reduces stress. Saying no reduces frustration, regret, and resentment. And saying no keeps boundaries around the things in my life that are of the utmost importance and guards my time so that I can b r e a t h e…and be devoted, with joy, to the things God has already purposed for me… the beautiful ordinary things of life.

I’d love to hear your struggle with saying no. Or maybe you struggle with saying yes—and I want to hear about that, too!

One More Thing

As I think and pray through an opportunity, writing a Pros & Cons list is one tool I use to help me decide whether to say yes or no. To make your own, go through your calendar and write down every current responsibility or obligation you have. This helps you remember all that you have already committed to. Then, on a different sheet of paper draw a line down the center making two columns; one for Pros and one for Cons. Jot down all the pros and cons you can think of in giving a yes or no to the new thing you’re considering. Sometimes seeing it all in black and white brings perspective, and God will reveal the answer to you.

Also, talk to a trusted friend, mentor, or spouse about the opportunity. Often, it’s those closest to us who can see things we can’t see—especially when it comes to knowing if we’ve maxed our capacity for good opportunities or are in danger or sacrificing the best thing for a good thing.

Let me know if you found this helpful! Until next week, don’t forget that you are greatly and dearly loved by The King. And let’s live our beautiful, ordinary lives like it!

I love you!
xo – P❤️