Four Guiding Principles in Learning to Say “NO”

Posted by on Feb 25, 2013 in Blog Post, Resources Blog | Comments Off on Four Guiding Principles in Learning to Say “NO”

One of the biggest challenges that pastors and other ministry leaders face is the challenge of saying “No.” There are so many demands, usually more than we can handle, but somehow we find ourselves thinking we can take it all on. And then beyond that, even we do want to say “No,” how do we go about having those difficult conversations? How do we know who and how to prioritize? Here are few thoughts to stimulate how you think about that conversation.


Stop signs

1. LIMITS: Remember that you have limits…and that Jesus did too.  Be clear on these limits of time and relational capacity, embrace them humbly, and then use this clarity to inform whom you spend time with and how often.  Sometimes you also need to communicate your limits to people so they understand why you’re saying, “No” in the first place. (see Ephesians 4:25-26, Ephesians 5:13-14).


2. PRIORITIES: Clarify your priorities in life and in ministry.  Saying, “Yes” to one means saying, “No” to another [always].  Instead of letting others determine where you spend your time, take initiative to spend it in ways that align with your priorities and core values.  Be less reactive and more proactive.  This is your responsibility, no one else. And if your family is your top priority, your behavior should be congruent to your stated value. Monitor this consistently.


3. MARGINS: Far too many ministry leaderslive maxed out, meaning they don’t leave space in their life for interruptions, which can often be divine interruptions that we don’t have time for. Make sure your schedule can breath so that you can respond to crisis, or emergency, or needs that ought to be responded to.  Jesus lived this way.  One example of a margin involves practicing Sabbath, and my experience shows me that far too many pastors don’t obey this teaching of Scripture.


4. WISE COUNSEL: Ask a couple close friends or your spouse to give you honest input on what they think you say, “Yes” to and perhaps shouldn’t.  Find someone who is especially courageous and also willing to speak directly to you about what they observe. Much wisdom may follow.