Learning to say no more often

Yes, no, pray | freedigitalphotos.net

It was one of those days today. I learned as I checked my email this morning a web site had been down almost two hours. It went that way most of the day. It took me many hours to get to the thing I had been at the top of my to-do list for today. I felt behind almost all day, a feeling I do not like. Sometimes lifehappens, but I am realising more and more that all too often I set myself up for days like today.

I cannot predict things like down web sites. Some of what I had to do today was work related and dictated to me by others; I have no control over those things. Other things had self-selected due dates or deadlines – I had control over them when I picked them, but many could not be changed today. More thought before setting due dates would allow me to space things better, but I still have limited control – especially when I cannot predict something breaking or someone adding a few work related tasks with a short deadline.

What I can control is the things for which I volunteer, and I had a couple of those today too. Once I say yes, I feel committed to do what I have said unless there are extreme circumstances. I have had a bad habit of saying yes when there is a need and I can fill. I am especially bad about doing this when I do not see anyone else likely to fill the need.

Yesterday we were talking with a couple, and she said she has learned to reply to any request for her help (and thus her time) with “let me pray about it and get back to you”. She says she tends to say no to most things when she does that. I think I am going to try this, or at least try to think to do it. I should be doing what God wants me doing, not everything I am able to do.

A couple of years ago I was daily saying, “Just because you can do something does not mean you should.” This is taking the time to think and pray and sort what should be done from what should not be done – at least not by me.

If you are tired of doing too much, maybe you will join me?

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6 Comments on “Learning to say no more often

  1. I agree that many of us should and must say “no” a whole lot more than we do not just for our personal benefit but for our marriage. However, I see many people saying, “I will pray about it” as a way of not being required to face the person and say “no, I can’t.” It also somehow makes them feel not responsibile for the decision because they can blame their lack of an answer (which happens more than “no) or their “no” on God. I went through that stage and have found I really develop more respect from the people that ask me to do something if I just say “no and tell them I appreciate the opportunity but my time constraints will not allow me to do that.” However in order to do that, you must have a plan prepared ahead of time of where you will spend your time and energy and you must develop the discipline to stay with the plan.
    While that does not sound spiritual, it actually is more spiritual than telling people you will pray about it and then probably or usually don’t.

  2. I’m right there with you on this one but with an extreme caveat and caution.

    We have to be very, very careful about saying, “I’ll pray about it.” Especially if we expect the answer to be “no” or worse, want to say “no” but don’t have the courage or reason to to do so.

    There are myriad consequences when we already know that “no” is the answer and we add the “pray about it.” Clause.

    This is deceptive, this is a ruse and thus a lie.

    God says to let our yes mean yes and our no mean no. So while prayer is always a good thing, if we already know the answer then we have no business, no integrity, if we use it as a means to hide or camouglage our answer.

    I grew up in a home, ufortunately, where my mother got tired of saying no. Oft times her reasons for saying no were reasonable but most times it was for fear or spite.

    She began saying she’d have to pray about everything, from simply whether we could run next door to a friend’s house to the huge things like trips, dates and jobs.

    Unfortunately she lost all Christian credibilty and damaged her own testimony when it became obvious that whne she said, “let me pray” she had already decided “no” and was going to lay the blam at God’s feet by emphasizing “God says No!”

    As you can see, this creates a tad bit of of an integrity problem.

    So becareful when you want to say “no” and couch it with saying you must pray. I’m not saying that any of us will fall into that trap, but it is a trap to be extremely wary of.

    It is one we don’t want to fall into. If we do, think of the irreparable harm it may do to the non-believer watching from the side? Think of how it can God’s word. Think of how you might have to answer for that one person who might have sought Him but didn’t because they saw you using God to get your way.

    Indeed consider how it can destroy any witness we may have.

    So If we know right away the answer is “no” then speak it. If we honestly don’t know, or one way or the other but with reservations and need to seek His will and wisdom, then by all means, pray about it and act accordingly.

    But beware, very wary, of the simple reply of “I must Pray” if you really don’t. And beware if when you say I must pray and your answers come back usually as “no” then maybe you already knew that and should have said so.

  3. If you are tired of doing too much, maybe you will join me?

    “let me pray about it and get back to you” :-)

  4. We are responsible for our own actions. Unless you are much more spiritual than us, “run-of-the-mill” Christians, you don’t hear God’s voice saying “Do not help your neighbor build his shed”. I suspect that God’s direction ends up tracking our interest’s and likes more often than not.
    This response “I will check with God, and let you know” is just one more opportunity for the world to identify insincere and inconsistent Christians….As if your time is so totally committed to the work of God that you must pray in seclusion to plan your week.
    Just sayin

  5. Interesting comments on using “I will pray about it” as a way to avoid dealing with something, or to over spiritualise things. I’ve seen both done, and don’t care for either.

    My point thought is to take an extra step, not say yes or no immediately unless it’s very clear that you should. Take the time to think, and to pray, and make better decisions.

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