Christian Living Featured

Learning to Say “No”

I’m a people-pleaser. There. I said it. Like most people, I like (LOVE) to be liked. I love meeting people’s needs. Moving? I’m there. Toilet clogged? Stand back. Lost dog? I’m your man.

I’ve been an assistant pastor for much of my ministry and am accustomed to taking charge of the details. So, when our family moved west to plant a church, it was easy to do it all. I set out the church signs, led the music, made the announcements, preached the message… you get the idea.

A couple of years ago, I invited a mature pastor to be a guest speaker. We were growing, and even though I was beginning to feel a bit burned out, I asked if he could give me the secret to the next step of growth. His advice was accurate and convicting: “You should only do what only the pastor can do.”

In other words, if someone else can do something, let THEM do it. His advice caused me to prioritize. What is it that only I can do? Here are four of my priorities…

  1. Christian
  2. Husband
  3. Father
  4. Pastor

Your list may be different from mine, but you have priorities, too – things that no one else can do, but you. As I evaluated my priorities, one thing has become painfully clear: I can’t do it all. And you’re no different.

In Exodus 18, Moses learns this lesson. He’s judging the people and guiding them spiritually from morning until night. His father-in-law informs him that this kind of life is unsustainable. His advice? “This isn’t good! You’ll burn out! Learn to delegate.”

In other words, stop building a “to-do list” and start developing a “stop-doing list.

Here are two benefits of saying “no”…

  1. Saying “no” allows me to say “yes” to MY priorities.

As a pastor, I have priorities. Sermon prep, prayer, visits. Tasks I must complete. Eliminating the unessential allows time and energy for the essential. 

  1. Saying “no” allows me to say “yes” to GOD’S priorities.

Coaching a soccer team or leading the neighborhood watch program is optional. Reading my Bible, being a faithful husband and good father, and attending church faithfully are not.

So, where are you? Time to reevaluate? Go through your schedule and see if there are areas you can say “no!”

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