If It’s Not a Definite “Yes”, It’s a Definite “No”

learning to say "no"

I have issues saying “no.” It feels rude and selfish. But it is a powerful tiny two-letter word. Due to my inability to say “no” I even found myself dating a guy I had no interest in dating. My attempt to “let him down lightly” without saying a straightforward “no” backfired. Unsurprisingly, that short-lived relationship led to an awkward breakup.

That experience was a wake-up call for me. Even if “no” didn’t feel very nice, it was a word I needed to incorporate into my vocabulary.

In college I wanted to do it all. I feared the thought of passing up an opportunity or missing out. But by the end of my sophomore year, I was wore thin with good opportunities. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. I reacquainted myself with the “no” word yet again.

However, becoming a minister’s wife tested my resolve.

For the most part our church is very respectful of the fact that am not employed by the church. I love my role of supportive wife, and I enjoy being involved in the children and youth ministries. Lately, I have felt ineffective. I realized it was because I’d become a “catch-all” and did not have the time or energy for the ministries I was truly passionate about.

Some of my blogger friends, such as Amy and Bethany Miller, have been talking about this year being the year of “no.” I enjoyed their post because it lined up so closely with something Mitch and I had been pondering. While at the National Conference on Youth Ministry, we heard Kara Powell, author of Sticky Faith, talk about the power of no. She said several comments that stuck with me:

1. Every Yes Means a No.
Everything we choose to say “yes” to, means something else that we are saying “no” to. There is no such thing as a free lunch (thank you high school Economics!). Oftentimes we say “yes” to so many things that we end up saying “no” to the people or ministries that we care the most about.

2. We are Tired of Being Tired.  
If you follow The Engaged Home on Twitter, you may have seen a TedTalk I shared on the importance of slowness. Our culture is addicted to busyness. And people are beginning to wake up to its harmful reality.


3. Our Busyness is Often Atheism.  
Strong statement. But is it not true? So often we pack our lives with busyness because we do not trust God that everything will be OK if we don’t. “We act like there is no God, so we say “yes”, due to our unbelief.” – Kara Powell

Psalm 46:10

4. If It’s Not a Definite “Yes,” It’s a Definite “No.”  
When she said this, it slapped me across the face. I spend so much energy talking myself into a “yes.” If it is not obviously something I should do, I should pass.

5. Choose Your Few Great “Yes” Priorities.
What are some great “yes” priorities? God. Family. Friends. And obeying God’s call.

What are your “yes” priorities? Are there things that you need to start saying “no” to?

Kara Powell’s book The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Kids is all about helping nurture a faith in your children that will stick. I highly recommend this book to ALL parents!

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8 thoughts on “If It’s Not a Definite “Yes”, It’s a Definite “No”

  1. I really enjoyed this post, Nathana, and thanks for linking back to me! In the few short weeks I have committed to mindfully say “no” to superfluous activities I have found a level of peace that has alluded me thus far in my collegiate career. There is a freedom, a beauty, and a joy in choosing to say no. Thanks for all the great tips to add to my own arsenal of knowledge!

  2. Nathana, love your post. It’s hard at times for me to say no. I have learn over the years how to say no and meaning without feeling guilty. You also gave me some tips. Great post.

    • Thank you! Fighting the guilt is hard, but since coming to terms with the fact that it is often healthier for my family and my God-given passions, I have learned to have peace about it. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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