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Steve Marr Blog

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Dec 09

Saying No

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

I don’t like saying no.  I shouldn’t say this because someone reading this article may bombard me with a request for assistance. I’ve had a tendency to take on too many things partly because I don’t want to say no. A turning point for me came a few years ago when I came to the realization that every time I said yes to request I was, by default, saying no to something else. Perhaps I was saying no to family time or to another priority commitment. In life there are no free lunches and no extra time, so when we add something; it alters the schedule. The only question is what part do we alter?


Paul wrote, “I robbed other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost.(2 Corinthians 11:8, NLT, emphasis mine)  Paul made the point that when he said yes to serving the church at Corinth he was taking money others donated to support that ministry. By ministering in Corinth he was, by default, not reaching other people.

As I have grown older, I’ve gotten a lot better at counting the cost when I’m asked to pick up a new commitment. Part of counting the cost is to determine what I need to drop so I can pick up something new. If the only way I can add something to my schedule, is to eliminate something; then, I must decide what goes, unless it’s a legitimate emergency.

I have consulted with a Christian counseling practice. Karen, the manager, explained a problem to me.  She keeps being forced to add additional appointments into a schedule that takes her away from family time. I agreed that this was a problem. She looked at me and said, “Can’t you help me figure out a way to unburden my schedule?” This led to a discussion that revealed that these appointments were current clients that simply wanted more appointments than required. I explained to the counselor that just because somebody wants to see you two to three times a week doesn’t mean you need to schedule the time. In some instances, more frequent appointments are not helpful. Over time Karen became much better at protecting her boundaries and maintaining a more reasonable counseling schedule.

In my business consulting practice, unless a client is in crisis, I prefer to make follow-up appointments 2 to 4 weeks out, partly because the client may have some homework to do and needs time to take responsibility for committing to progress on their own.

Develop the habit of considering what you will say no to when you are asked to pick up something new. When in doubt, ask the Lord for guidance; He will provide the right answer that protects you from overcommitment.

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