It is always easy to find yourself overloaded with obligations (work and personal) without really knowing how you ended up that way in the first place. I did this for a long time—and to be honest, I still sometimes find myself rushing from place to place without much investment and far too much stress. But I recently discovered the power of saying “no” to people. I’ve learned it is not just okay to say “no” but it is necessary.
I once heard a quote that really drove this point home for me.
“Whatever is on your plate is there because you said ‘yes’ to it.” Somewhere along the line you either directly or indirectly said “yes” to requests or desires other people have of you and your time. But here are some reasons you should learn to say “no.”
- Jesus didn’t agree to do everything asked of Him and neither should you. Think of it this way: if the One who was all-powerful and infinite said “no” to some requests, don’t you think you (not being all-powerful and absolutely finite) should? I’ve heard it said, “Jesus went from place of prayer to place of prayer with miracles in between.” He wasn’t running from His cousin’s sister’s wife’s house to Target to meet His old college roommate for some quality time before rushing off to dinner with His family. He didn’t rush anywhere. He didn’t overload His plate. He took His time among people and around them. You and I could learn so much from His example.
- To be able to say “yes” to what matters, you must say “no” to other things. It is okay to tell others (family or friends) “no” without delineating a laundry list of excuses. Sometimes people might require reasons but, more often than not, it is totally acceptable to say, “That isn’t something I am able to commit to right now.”
- Saying “no” will allow you to become focused on quality over quantity. You will begin to see a notable shift in your relationships with others and you will find yourself refreshed. You won’t be overstretched, overstressed, and overwhelmed. You’ll be able to walk and live in peace as Jesus reminded us time after time.
As you work on saying “no,” remember to do it kindly but firmly. With me, my friends weren’t used to me saying I couldn’t do something for them. It was hard for them at first and I needed to say it as gently as possible without backing down. You might need to do the same. Remember, saying “no” to others is important for you to live and walk in peace—just as Jesus commanded.