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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Nichols

The Sanctity of Saying No

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

For many people, New Year's is a time of new beginnings, making commitments to be better, making resolutions to do or not do certain things. Those things are fine. I don't know . . . I've never really done them a lot, and anecdotally, most people don't have success with them. Or they have very limited success. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to be the best version of yourself that you can be, but New Year's isn't the only time you're allowed to do that, nor should your worth as a person be measured by how long you can go without eating a Reese's Cup.

If you really want a challenge befitting of the New Year, here it is. Say "no."

There's a limited amount of time in your life - 24 hours per day - and you can't fill all of it cause you need to spend roughly a third of it sleeping. You can't, literally can't, say "yes" to everything and still be the best version of yourself. The more things pull for your attention the less well you'll do them all. Know yourself. Understand what you're good at and pour into those things. As a ministry leader, I can tell you definitively, a ministry is better off when you give it 100%. You can't give 100% when you don't have 100% because your doing 10 other things and are spread too thin.

That doesn't mean those things aren't worthwhile. But there's a lot of good things out there to do and not enough time to do them all. It's like money: there's more causes to give to than money to give to them. You need to pick the ones that matter to you, the ones you can contribute to in a meaningful way, and commit to them. That means a few things.

1. Pick things you can do well. You may want to sing, but if you can't carry a tune, invest elsewhere.

2. But also . . . you can work at things to get better at them. See this story about Lance Gatch, the worship director at Elevation Worship.

2. Sometimes you have to lay down good things in order to find the best things. Don't hold on to sacred cows. All ministry is God's ministry.

3. Let your "yes" be "yes." When you do say "yes" to something, that has meaning. Follow through and do it as well as you can. From a leader's point of view, one of the worst things you can be in a ministry is unreliable.

4. That might mean disappointing some people. You have to be okay with that. It's hard to say "no" and leaders don't always make it easy because all they can see is the hole you're leaving that they now need someone else to fill. Be gracious with them and help them understand what God is leading you to and why you feel it's the right timing.

5. But also . . . you shouldn't feel bad about it. If you've prayed and weighed your options and determined that this isn't where to be, how can someone object to that? Be where God wants you to be, not where someone else thinks they need you to be.

6. Re-evaluate often. What is the best thing now may be a distraction in a year or two.

7. Do it. Jim Elliot said, "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."

Let this be the year you don't say "yes" to everything just because it's hard to say "no." There is sanctity in saying "no." "Let your weary spirit rest. Lay down what's good and find what's best." (Breathe, Jonny Diaz)

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