Be Still Series: Saying No

We need to get better at saying, “No”.  There, I said it!  I know, I know…we don’t want to let people down. We want to be reliable.  We want to come across as if we can do it all.  We want to help and not be helped.  I get it.  Here’s the thing: we can still be reliable, help and be helped all while also saying, “No,” when that response is what God would want for us.

Be wary of putting helping and declining at odds with one another: choosing between the two does not have to be an either/or decision. It can, and should, be a both/and dichotomy whereby one furthers the other: saying “no” to pave the way for something better and having the ability to better serve because something else was turned down.

When discerning what is aligned with God’s will for your life there are three main resources at your disposal: scripture, prayer and other believers.

We can’t do it all.  We weren’t meant to.  What if our saying, “No,” allows for someone else to say, “Yes?” Why would we allow ourselves to get burnt out over doing all the things when we could really excel in fewer areas that really highlight our gifts from God? A key component to being still is only taking on what God intends for us to take on.

Remember, just because we could doesn’t mean we should.

If turning down opportunities to serve (in the church or out of it) sounds like it could be challenging, take some time to practice.  Yep! Practice saying, “No.”  There’s two main approaches here: 

  1. Start with something small so you can build up some resistance, or
  2. Just go all in and decline a larger commitment.  Consequently, in turn, all other rejections may seem like a piece of cake. 

If this is something you really want to delve more into, I recommend the Cloud & Townsend book, Boundaries.  Part three, Developing Healthy Boundaries, might be especially useful for you. 

Here is an analogy from a Christian counselor I once saw.  It goes something like this:

A juggler, even the best in the world, can only juggle so many balls at the same time.  Even if every ball up in the air is “good”, there is still only so much that can be suspended midair at any given time.  Be intentional about what you pick up and allow to be juggled by you. 

My insightful therapist, a much wiser human than I


Father God, my desire to help others and do for my family is a double edged sword at times. Sometimes I have nothing left to give, and yet that still doesn’t stop me from taking on more commitments. I’ve already proven to you and others that I could do these things, but help me focus on what I should do. Give me the strength and discernment needed to respectfully decline the next opportunity that is not aligned with your will for me. I know that such a task will be done even better by someone who is truly called to play that role. Allow me to only commit to those activities which make the best use of the precious gifts you have graciously given to me.

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name, Amen.

4 thoughts on “Be Still Series: Saying No

  1. Hello Helen!
    Somehow I missed a couple of episodes. I will go back and find the ones I missed.

    Usually I’m a visual learner, but I love hearing your voice & inflections in these little studies. Great idea to offer both. I am, as always, blown away by your references, knowledge, clarity, and thoughtfulness – at your young age!!.

    This episode was reinforcement of old lessons for me. At 35, I had yet to learn the word NO, for all the same reasons you spoke about. I would need to drink 🍹 for the energy it gave me to do it ALL and be accepted by everyone!! (The PTA, my kids’ friends’ Moms, my husband, my boss). I would wake up in the morning and feel used, used up, and exhausted. I would need to drink that next day to do it all over again. Until I couldn’t anymore.

    My AA Sponsor once asked me, “How do you think of people when they are able to say ‘no’ to you?”
    I answered “I respect them”. I could see in OTHERS what I wanted to be like, but just couldn’t change that deeply planted aspect of myself by myself. She reminded me that we don’t change alone. If we could, we would have – long ago! She reminded me we could ask God to show us a better way!!! Don’t you know – God did for me what I could not do for myself! It was a long and slow process for me to change. But each little step, in the right direction, slowly & surely added up.

    I SO enjoyed this episode, and how you were able to weave it with the reeds of God’s will for us, what’s good for us, and what we don’t need to take on at all!! I’d like to encourage you to continue this ministry. (That is, for as long as you know that God is behind you in it). But also as a Mother. I just KNOW your Mom is bursting with pride & love for the woman you are, and are becoming.
    With love and appreciation,
    Dawn Laird


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