Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015

Learning to Say “No”

NODo you have trouble saying “no” when asked to take on a new activity? If so, read on. This post may change your life.

Years ago when my children were small, I was feeling frazzled, frenetic, and frustrated. In desperation, I cried out to the Lord.  “God,” I said, “I don’t have enough time to do everything.”

Expecting some sympathy, what I got instead was truth. “Dear one, you always have enough time to do what I have called you to do.”

Have you ever been hit between the eyes with the truth? Then you know how I felt. In the depths of my being, I knew what God had said to me was the truth. So, why was I having so much trouble getting everything done?

There were only two possible answers:

1) I was a disorganized mess.

2) I was involved in activities to which God had not called me.

Since I am a pretty organized person (my spices are in alphabetical order :), I knew my reason had to be the second one: I was involved in activities that God did not want me to be involved in. To be sure, they were good activities–most of them ministries at my church. But God had not told me to be involved in those ministries. So, to remain in them would be disobedience. Moreover, in continuing with those ministries, I would be robbing the persons who were ordained to be involved of their blessings.

So, one by one, after praying, I gave up those activities to which God had not called me. And I focused on the one thing to which God had called me: writing and encouraging others.

Since then, I’ve met countless other people who have trouble saying “no.” As I considered the many reasons we have a hard time saying “no,” I discovered several. Read through the list to see if any of these reasons apply to you.

  • Insecurity. We often can’t say no because we are afraid people won’t like us if we refuse to do something they ask us to do. When we say “yes,” we get stroked, and all of us like to be stroked.
  • Pride. We often can’t say no because we think that no one can do the job as well as we can.This is arrogance, plain and simple.
  • False Sense of Responsibility. We can’t say “no” because we think that no one else will do the job. This attitude reflects a “savior complex.” I had to learn that I am not the savior of the world. Jesus is!
  • Thoughtlessness. We can’t say “no” because we don’t think of the consequences of saying “yes.” We fail to count the cost (Luke 14:28).
  • Control. We can’t say “no” because we want to make sure everything is done right. We don’t trust other people to do things as perfectly as we would do them.
  • Avoidance of Responsibility. We can’t say “no” because saying “yes” will keep us from having to face our own responsibilities, whether at home or at our job.

Did you find yourself in any of the above reasons? If so, take heart. Discovering the cause of a problem is half the solution. Now apply the other half which is asking for God’s help in whatever area you need it.

Remember this: It’s all right to say “no” when God tells you to say “no.”  We must fear disobeying God more than we fear the reactions of people. As Proverbs 29:25 warns us, “The fear of man will prove to be a snare.” There are few snares as unsettling as being trapped in a project you wish you had not taken on.

In my next post, we’ll discuss truthful, kind ways of saying “no.”  So, come back to visit on Friday.

Copyright 2015 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All Rights Reserved.

Photo courtesy of Nelly Daniel at


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2 thoughts on “Learning to Say “No”

  1. MaryAnn;
    What a wonderful topic—‘saying NO,’ is a major pitfall in my life, and results from a myriad of reasons; some above and some not.
    As a follower of Christ, I truly believe that we have been set free by His Teachings. I am very similar in my manners of ‘organization’; in fact, I am trying to ‘shake it up,’ and say NO to myself when I feel as if I am not completing a task, but to get back to this excellent discussion, I am slowly learning, and the journey has been hard.
    I ask for discernment in all decisions and wisdom to know how to act and react; I can only trust in God’s Divine Guidance…but on the other hand, one part of my daily devotionals is spent asking Him to give me a Mission or a task.
    I am there for those who need me at that moment in time, and sometimes that calls for deep commitment and sacrifice, but my stumbling block is knowing whether or not the need is real or if I am just being manipulated, and that can create havoc with time, energy and my personal sense of balance and equilibrium.
    This morning I read the Sermon on the Mount, and it impacted me greatly ( it always does). I seek humility, discernment, and ask God to grant me a kind heart, a willing spirit and to carry out His work. I am anxiously waiting for your next thread.

    • Thank you for your heartfelt comment, dear Skye. We all struggle with these issues at one time or another. You are right in that we need discernment to differentiate between a legitimate need and one that is not. Praise God that Holy Spirit provides that discernment willingly to all who seek Him.

      Many Blessings,