Healthy Leaders


Just Say No!

Julie SunneJulie Sunne

Just because there is something to be done, does not mean it is yours to do. 

I’m finally tired enough of being tired that I’ve decided to use my “no” more than my “yes.” In this age of crazy busyness, it’s necessary to be intentional, and that requires saying “no.”

It seems we all commit to way more than time permits. And it may be an epidemic in Christian circles.

For far too long, if there were something to do, I’d say yes. Be on this school committee? Sure. Help with this church activity? Of course. Edit this newsletter? I’ll get right to it.

What I found out was that by over-committing I didn’t do anything particularly well, and I couldn’t pursue the areas I was gifted in or serve my family well.

NY Times best-selling author and Proverbs 31 Ministries Founder Lysa Terkeurst knows the importance of this issue in our lives. She wrote an entire book that was just released on this very subject, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless DemandsSince I just started reading it, I won’t review it here, but so far, I’m finding it speaks to my heart.

Being Intentional

It takes great intention to turn down worthy requests. Our “no” has to be preplanned.

After much prayer and reflection, I’ve made certain determinations for my schedule for this next school year:

It’s not easy and I often feel guilty about not stepping up when there is a definite need in an area. However, I’ve realized that when I fill a position as just a warm body, I prevent someone else who may be better equipped from doing so.

Not to mention, when I say “yes” to everything, I overfill my schedule, which negatively affects God’s calling on my life, including caring for my family.

I can’t expect to serve God well when I’m run so ragged I don’t have the energy to hear or obey.

Six Suggestions

We are not meant to do it all.

We are each gifted in certain areas and called to certain tasks. The other tasks are for … well … others. And we were created to rest, as God did (Gen. 2:2).

Rushing through life merely causes us to miss much of the glory God offers in our earthly existence. When we purposely slow down, we find ourselves in a better position to listen and help.

So – may I ask – how are you going to take control of your crazy schedule this year? Might I give you six suggestions?

  1. Study God’s Word.
  2. Schedule in ink the non-negotiables: personal Bible study/prayer, family, sleep, meals, dates, exercise (I struggle with this one), worship.
  3. Schedule other priorities: time set aside to cultivate friendships and pursue hobbies, clean house (maybe this should be a non-negotiable?).
  4. Don’t give an immediate “yes” to a request. Pray about it as you carefully consider each request in light of your gifts and #1 and #2.
  5. When you make a decision, act on it. Too often we guilt ourselves into changing our minds.
  6. Remind yourself repeatedly – post it on your refrigerator, write it on your mirror, tattoo it on your hand (just kidding on that one) – Just because there is something to be done, does not mean it is yours to do. 

Calming the chaos in our lives isn’t easy. And no one is going to do it for us.

Making best decisions for our time requires discipline – commitment to gather wisdom and learn discernment – then acting on both.

As Lysa wrote in her book, “You must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.”

Go out and love and serve as you are equipped, but don’t bow to the pressure to please others. After all, the only One we need to answer to is God.

Apply yourself to discipline and listen to words of knowledge. (Proverbs 23:12)

Pause and Reflect:

How do you avoid the trap to say “yes” to everything? Any suggestions?

© Julie Sunne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Julie Sunne