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Hope & Encouragement for Women

It’s Okay to Say, “No”

Most people have an insecurity about saying, “No” to people and their requests. We do not want to let people down, or we do not want people think badly of us; which is another way to say we are people pleasers. Sometimes, we can, “Yes” to things that are not spirit-led. Doing things to please others can lead to burn-out, exhaustion, and frustration.

Be free to say, "No."

As Christians, we often think a good request or act of service should be performed by us. 85% of what we do can be done by somebody else that means we often take more of a load than we should. That does not mean we do nothing, but often we “follow the crowd,” and are swayed by what others want from us. We look to other people to see what we should be doing. How about instead of following the crowd and being swayed by other people that you follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and do and go where He wants. You will be surprised what God will take off your plate to lighten your load. But too often, we never ask God what He wants us to do, we instead listen to what others want from us or follow what others are doing. When you follow Christ, your activities and schedules may not look like everyone else’s. You have to get comfortable that you may be different because you are not following what people want. So many times, people are involved in numerous activities, committees, and services because they have a need to be validated, get recognition, and prove their worth. In a lot of cases, these people end-up too busy to spend needed time being refreshed and renewed in the Father’s presence, and their cups run empty and they are doing from an “empty cup.” It is wise that we do not let our cups run empty going and doing “good works” that we forget our relationship with Jesus, our families, and taking care of ourselves. Yes, it may seem selfish to prioritize this way when others are in need and we have the answers and the time to help, but everything should be in balance. If your priorities are out of balance, you will be out of balance. It is never wise to serve and extend yourself if you are empty and depleted.

Learning to tell others “No” is a step to finding your worth in Christ alone, and not based on what others think of you. Be aware that other people may not like you to saying “No,” some may get offended, but your true friends will understand without pressure, guilt, coercion, or manipulation. We should all give each other the freedom to make choices that are best for us.

Everyone has boundaries but not everyone implements them. Some people have a need to always be doing and going, and expect everyone else to do the same. However, we are not built like one another, and some cannot go at the pace and speed of others. In our Western culture we have more heart disease and stress as a country as a whole compared to others, because we are always striving to keep up, get more, and we do not know how to rest and be still. Resting brings peace and with rest and stillness it opens you more to hearing the voice of God. So many people say they cannot hear God, and it is because they cannot get still enough. Most of the time their cell phones, iPads, or other electronic device keeps them distracted. Let’s not follow everyone else and what they are doing, but let us take time to step away from the crowds and distractions to hear the voice of the Lord.

Reflection Questions:

1.    Do you say, “Yes” to other’s request for fear of letting them down? Fear of losing their approval? Or fear they will be upset with you?

2.    Are you a God-pleaser or a people-pleaser? Do you pray before giving someone an answer to their request? (It is okay to say, “I need to pray about that; let me get back to you.”)

3.       Do you follow what everybody else is doing or do you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit? (An example would be, everyone at your church just signed up for a class, you don’t pray about whether God wants you there, you sign up because you feel like you should do what everyone else is doing).

4.    Do you lack boundaries? Do you have insecurity/lack of confidence? (These questions will give you insight why you may have difficulty saying “No.”). Ask the Holy Spirit to show you why you may have difficulty saying “No.”

Let’s look at some truths:

1.      You cannot do and be what everybody else wants. Your confidence comes from Christ, not what you do or who you can please. Always pray and seek God before committing yourself to something, even if it seems good. You do not have to give somebody an answer immediately, they can wait!

2.      It is okay to say “No, “and not feel bad. We are all created differently and have different needs. Some good responses are: “ Now is not a good time, I need to pray about that and get back with you, I need to pray first, No, thank you, or maybe another time.” In doing this, you are setting boundaries with others. If you do not set boundaries with others, you could end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and taken advantage of.

3.      It is okay to not sign-up, join, or attend every activity at church, with friends, or with family. The key is not copy what others are doing, and be God-led.

4.      It is also okay to say “No” to company and surprise visits by others. It is okay to say “No” to company that wants to drop in unexpectedly or without much notice. Do not feel bad if you need to say “No.” You may need rest, time alone with God and your family, or you may need extra time to prepare, and all is okay. Do not compare yourself to someone who could at the “drop of a hat” be ready for unexpected company. If God gives you the grace, strength and peace for company then you know and you will have it, if not it is not going to be fun for you or them.

If you feel pressure, guilt, condemnation, or manipulation from others to conform to what they want from you, then it is time to set some clear boundaries, and possibly some consequences if that type of behavior continues. A consequence could be separating yourself for a time or not engaging frequently with ones who would invade your boundaries. People who lack boundaries do not care if they take your time and energy, so you must protect your boundaries and be able to tell others “No,” and be okay with that.


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