Thursday, May 3, 2012

Getting to NO!

In a previous blog, I’ve admitted that one of my strongest parenting principles was trying, in as many cases as possible, to say, “YES” to my kids.

Today, I’m going to tell you how important it is to learn to say, “No.”

I’ll warn you: Saying no isn’t as easy as it seems. I had a tough one, not long ago. On a recent Monday night, as I finished my teaching session for Bible Study Fellowship, one of the men came up and asked for my help. At the time, I was exhausted but jazzed, happy with the lecture. As I turned to face this stranger. I could tell, from his posture, his eyes, and his voice, he needed help.

He said he needed help with prayer. But I sensed that he needed more.

As always, I started by asking a few questions. His answers revealed more than he realized. He was in trouble. Deep trouble. He needed more than advice. He needed a friend. A coach. Someone who could guide him through a difficult season in his life. If I had the chance, I knew that I could be that guide.

Everything in me wanted to help this struggling soul.

I’d no more than considered this thought, when the weight of all of my obligations came rushing through my mind. My business. My teaching study. My wife. My family. My coaching obligations. My new associate. My church.

In that instant, I realized that my plate was already full. If I took on this important opportunity, I’d have to let something else slide. And in a moment, I knew that this was not my assignment. I’d have to let it go.

I told myself, “no.”

I didn’t abandon my new friend. I made arrangements to get qualified help for him. I made certain that he was not alone. That someone would walk with him through the tough times. But to myself, I said no.

That interaction provided an important lesson for me. Not every need is God’s Will for my life. After all, if I met every need, what assignments are left for others? I will continue to pray for my friend. I’ll check up on him occasionally. And that will have to be enough.

Sometimes, the hardest “no” is the one we tell ourselves.

How about you? Have you told yourself no lately? Can you tell us about it?

Dr. Greg Sutherland,
(with Bette Nordberg)


  1. Saying no can be so hard! We all have limitations as to how much we can handle and we can't give our best if we are saying yes to everything. One area will begin to get less of us as we take on more and more. My husband and I serve in the youth ministry at our church and as I get closer to each of the teenage girls, I really want to be able to give each one my time and help them in any way I can. I know I cannot personally be there for each one myself so there are times where I have to direct them to someone else who may have less on their plate and more time to spend with them than I do.

    You are right that not every need is ours to take on! We need to be able to say no when it's too much and let someone else do God's work.

  2. Who knew there'd be so much to say about saying "no." Stay tuned! Dr. Ethan has a good story about no coming next Thursday!