Do Yourself a Favor, Learn to Say No
by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
A friend of mine had this on her Facebook page, “Some of the stress in your life is due to false responsibilities. Quit taking on what doesn’t belong to you.” While I hate quoting Facebook as ars source of wisdom, I cannot deny the truth in that statement.
I must admit, I have had a hard time learning to say no to things that were not my responsibility. That led to a bad habit of over-promising, under-delivering, guilt, and stress. Lots and lots of guilt and stress. It’s not just me, though, it’s most of us. By and large, we are a vast lot of freaked out, stressed out, over-promisers who don’t know how and when to say no.
How is it that people-pleasing became the Christian norm when it was never a trait modeled by our Messiah? We bend and tweak ourselves to whatever someone wants us to be in the interest of keeping the peace, then we go sing praises to the One who got nailed to a cross for non-conformity. He helped people, but He never people-pleased. He also had zero problem saying no. He never changed Himself to please others or performed on command. Even when it would mean saving His own skin or proving His ministry.
In fact, He actually warns us against people-pleasing. In the Message version of Luke 6:26, we are told: “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests…Your task is to be true, not popular.” Ouch and Yikes!
Why you can’t say no? Are you afraid God or others will be angry with you or disappointed in you if you say no? If so, I implore you to start using fear as your “check engine” light. If fear is in the equation, God is not. He never ever motivates us with fear. In fact, it says in the Bible that His love is designed to cast out all of your fears. So, if fear is your motivator, you need to ask yourself some hard questions.
If you say yes because you are afraid the other person will be angry with you if you say no, is that a relationship worth valuing? Trust me, I know what I’m talking about here. I have people-pleased myself out of friendships I cherished because I created a dynamic where I never said no, and it eventually broke me. Then, when I couldn’t do it anymore, the relationship ended. The worst part of it was, it was my fault because I taught them to value me only for what I could do for them other than who I am.
I have learned my job is to stay faithful to what God asks of me, not to what people ask of me. Inevitably, there will be times I have to say no, and they won’t like me very much. I have to be okay with that. My job is obedience, God’s job is to handle the outcomes associated with my obedience. To be a pleaser of God, I have to be willing to give up the popular vote (Galatians 1:10). Besides, what other people think about me is none of my business. I don’t answer to them, I answer to God.
I hope I have convinced you to do yourself a huge favor and learn to say no. Otherwise, you are going to be spending the rest of your life on the over-promising, under-delivering, guilt, and stress roller coaster that will leave you living a life that’s not pleasing anyone, especially yourself.