Just Say No

I would not call myself a Broadway musical type of guy.  In fact, I can count on a couple of fingers how many musicals I have not seen on TV.  However, I am familiar enough with Oklahoma! to know that the character Ado Annie sings the lyrics, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no.”  Annie can’t choose between two men and find it difficult to tell either of them no.


We can learn a lot about how to live from watching a performance of Oklahoma!.  Instead of waffling between two decisions like Ado Annie, we need to learn to say no when we need to.

The problem comes when some we are asked to perform some task that will benefit others.  Someone needs to do it.  Many will beg off until finally we are asked.  We are almost shamed into doing this good deed, even though it does not fit our gifts or talents.  This often will happen in our churches.

A few years ago I was asked to help out with our church’s Vacation Bible School.  I don’t remember exactly what it was I was asked to do.  However, I did not want to work in this week-long event.  I should have simply said no.

Instead, I said that I didn’t like kids. (This one came back to haunt me.  I really do like kids, by the way.  I have a couple.)

Why was it hard to say no?  The shame of being one of the few in the church not helping sat there ready to pounce on me. The guilt trip that someone would inevitably try to lay on me loomed.

So, how can one just say no without guilt or shame when facing this type of situation?

Ask a few questions?

Does it fit within my vision of life?  Yes, yes it does.

How about my mission?  Again, yes.

How about my values?  For the most part, yes, but not entirely.  However, my career requires me to not know exactly when I will get off each night.  To participate, I would have to take time off from work.  This would take time away that would be a large chunk of time I normally spend with my family.  So, not entirely.  This is definitely a trade-off.  Neither decision is a no-brainer.

Instead, I got cute and tried to use humor to get myself out of it. Humor that definitely failed.

At this point, I should have just said no, with no excuse.  It simply didn’t fit my life at the time.

By learning to say no to some good things (VBS is definitely good) we can say yes to things that could be even better for your life (family, other ministry, career).

Do you have a hard time saying no to worthwhile causes and events?

  1. June 4, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Several issues play into whether I say No or not. You have listed several. One very plain one is Time. If I don’t have the time, I say no. If I don’t have the inclination, I say no.

    • June 4, 2014 at 5:44 am

      That’s vital. That’s sort of what I’m saying. If it replaces something more important to you, or one of your big rocks, then you don’t have time for it.

  2. June 4, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Yes I struggle with this. Sometimes I need to do things I don’t want to do. I’m selfish. I need a good push. Other times I need to say no because I can’t be everywhere. It’s a struggle for me to balance.

    • June 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Yes, we definitely have to do some things we don’t want to do. We just can’t overload. Balance is a good word.

  3. June 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Yes. This is definitely a curse for a people-pleaser like me.

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