Learning To Say "No"

noGUEST BLOGGER: @johncatkinson is The Director of Multi-Site Ministries at Bay Area Fellowship Church in Corpus Christi, Texas.  You can checkout his blog PastorJohnAtkinson.com.   If you would like to submit a Guest Blog Post for BigIsTheNewSmall.com, click here.

Learning To Say “No”

If you’re in Church leadership you have a tough job, and every day is about learning something new. Over the years I have learned many lessons, most the hard way because I’m just not that smart, but I don’t think any lesson was harder than learning to say no.

Let’s be honest, no matter how many times you do it, saying no is tough, but not learning to say no when no is the right answer, will ultimately be even tougher.

Why is it so hard to say no?

  1. Because it often means saying no to good people you love and respect.
  2. Because sometimes it means saying no to good ideas.
  3. Because the people you say no to will either criticize you, be angry at you, or accuse you!
  4. Because no one wants people mad at them, criticizing them, or accusing them.
  5. The most important reason leaders never learn to say no is, saying yes is easier!

Here’s a tough question to ask yourself, if the right answer is no, do any of the above actually change it to a yes? I believe one of the laws of the lid in leadership is the inability to say no because of the fear of the relational mess it might cause. But just because an idea is good, and was brought to you by good people, doesn’t mean you should automatically say yes to it. The vision of your church is delivered to you by God, and it is unique to your church, and if you’re clear on what that vision is, then anything, good or bad, that takes you away from that vision, is not something you should say yes to.

After years of having to clean up self induced messes caused by my inability to say no, I think I’ve finally learned this:

I have never once regretted saying no when the right answer was no, but I have ALWAYS regretted saying yes when I knew no was the right answer!

  • That was a good post. You are actually right and I never thought of it that way, the fact that sometimes saying No can be the right answer. Saying no has always been a problem for me as well but little by little I’m learning to say what I think is right whether or not I think I’m hurting someone’s feelings. It is what’s best for you in the end.

    Marisol Bennett

  • Great word! Men of God read and take note! Thanks for the post!

  • But do you know what? It’s not just pastors that are afflicted by this – in fact a pastor asking a member of their congregation is likely to get a yes answer than a no.

    My pastor even said this to me once “I’ll ask them because nobody ever says no to the pastor” – however, I’ve always been prepared to say no (maybe it’s the private boarding school education in me) when I don’t want to do something or can’t.

    Still pastor or not – it’s a good shout.

  • “I have never once regretted saying no when the right answer was no, but I have ALWAYS regretted saying yes when I knew no was the right answer!”

    Hmm… to turn that around, I have never once regretted saying ‘yes’ when the right answer was ‘yes,’ but I always regret saying ‘no’ when I knew ‘yes’ was the right answer.

    So either way, say ‘yes’ when that’s the right answer – say ‘no’ when that’s the right answer. Personally, I tend to think ‘yes’ is the right answer more often than not, which is why I default that way. Should we switch that to defaulting to ‘no’?

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  • Thanks for all the comments! It has been an honor to post here today!

  • Great post, John!

    Saying “no” is indeed one of the most difficult things we face, for many of the reasons you mentioned above. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn as well, and I believe it helps all of us to see that others struggle with similar issues, and that ultimately it is okay to say no!

    We must all remember that we cannot be all things to all people.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!

  • If you have time, I recommend you connect with Josh Miller @c_istudios in South Fla. Incredible, gifted ministry resource, and great brother! (contact@C-Istudios.com)

    -Brad Lewis (@bigcloudmusic)

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