Learning To Say No!

It’s Monday .. and that means a day when I catch up on all that has happened on the weekend that now needs my attention. I stop reading and answering emails and various texts from different apps on Friday night when I close the office for the weekend. So, they pile up and then on Monday I work to “catch up” and answer as many as I can or should.

You may ask what happens on the weekend that requires that I shut down the office and all that goes on in a ministry office on the weekends? The answer is simple. I work in my study on Saturday (a separate room from my office) to be ready to minister in the evening at a house church that I lead. And Sunday is my Sabbath when I do not work but have a day of rest away from all the normal weekday activities. So, there is always a lot to do on Monday.

As I reviewed the messages this morning I, once again, practiced something that it took me a long time to learn. I had to say “no” to a number of those who wrote or communicated by voice message. Examples:

    • Someone passing through my city sometime in June wanting to drop in and have coffee at my home
    • Someone needing to speak to me right away as it is (was) urgent
    • Someone writing and needing a prophetic word because they are having major problems in life
    • Someone who wanted to come and stay with me for three or four days so we could visit and they could share in (help me with, learn from) my ministry
    • Someone who simply wanted to have a coffee to ‘fellowship’
    • And the list could go on but you get the idea

I simply responded with a polite “no” to each of these and other requests that came in over the weekend. I have a number of criterion when determining how I will answer the different requests. The main one is: Did God call me to do this?” If the answer is “no” than my answer is also “no”.

Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message Version of the Bible and now with the Lord in Heaven, wrote: “A busy pastor is a lazy pastor.” Much of our business is a fruit of our laziness to discern the right things and say no to everything else. So, the key is FOCUS. We need to focus on what the Lord has called us to do at this time in the Kingdom and at this time in our journey of life. 

The problem is: Unsure of our direction and focus, we double our speed. And thus many end up living with stress, anxiety, and eventually burn-out. Living life but not enjoying life. Busy but not productive. Active but not getting anywhere. 

A number of years ago I learned this truth and thus learned to say “no” more often than I say “yes.” I learned that busy is not better. I discovered that it takes stillness and solitude to stay in touch with the heart of God. It became evident that I needed to make time for inner and outer silence so that I could hear the voice of the Spirit. And that this meant learning to say “no”. 

It meant no longer finding my sense of value and worth in what I did but in who I am in relationship to Jesus. That my identity was not to be found in my activities or my profession but  in who I am “in Christ.” 

Learning to say “no” was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do – and one of the best. You might want to try it. Find your God-given focus and then say no to everything that is not within that focus.