Do you have a hard time saying no? It is such a small word and yet we find it difficult to say don’t we? Sometimes we “christian-eze” it as John Crist describes.
So what is it about saying no that is so difficult? For many as a follower of Jesus there is a false idea that saying no is not in accordance with the way Jesus lived. Geri Scazzero in her book “The Emotionally Healthy Woman” states it well. She says “No matter what the request or need, no matter how depleted or empty I felt, I believed that a good and loving Christian would rarely say no.” Have you ever felt this way? Are you bound by the idea that saying no is a reflection of your devotion and love for the Lord? (why we “christian-eze it)
This belief can often leave you struggling to say no despite the fact that God gives each living thing boundaries. He does not expect us nor has he created us to be, as Geri puts it, “twenty-four-hour-seven-day-a-week machines.” We are living in a relationship with Him. Saying no does not reflect on our devotion or love but rather takes that in consideration as we “spend” the time we have been given according to the boundaries that help us thrive.
Sometimes it helps to “plate” your priorities. Draw out a pie chart like this
to determine how much investment you are able to make in different areas. Put a time limit within each area. How is a request going to impact the time that you have for such an activity? Be honest and list everything that takes time in your life and evaluate if you are investing your time or allowing others to steal it away randomly.
Are there “good’ things that are not able to be accomplished because of the boundary of time, energy or priority? Then say No.
Is someone asking you to invest time where they are unwilling to do so themselves? People will and can use you by “stealing” from your plate. This may be an opportunity to teach them about boundaries by saying no.
Is there something that would deter you from having time to be balanced on your plate? In other words, are you trying to “pile up” extra helpings that you cannot possibly ingest without the heartburn of “why do they think…” “wish I had time to … ” or “would someone see that I’m busy???” Keep your plate limited to only those things you have prioritized. Never follow up no, but…
You may be able to do this loosely for a year projection, or it may be a monthly exercise and for some this may be a daily activity so that you create a habit of living intentionally with boundaries making it easier to say a guilt-free, God honoring, No.
Do you have any techniques you use on ways you keep boundaries and use the No word? Please share in comments below!