How Do You Say No To Good Things?

I came across this Tweet from Anne Jackson today, and it resonated with me a lot.

Learning to say no to good things. It’s always hard, but it’s necessary. I’ve been losing focus lately.

I know we all have lots of good things on our plate.

We have lots of great opportunities to get involved in lots of good things.

I think that the online world has not only opened the door for us to get involved in lots of good causes, but it has created a certain angst (how can I not get involved with so many good opportunities) that leaves us confused with whether or not to say no to all these opportunities.

So How Do You Know When To Say No To Good Things
Here are just 10 suggestions, or rather avenues and elements that help us think through the process.

  1. Prayer
  2. Small Group/Community Discernment
  3. Gifting/Skills
  4. Time
  5. Benefits
  6. Goals/Objectives/Focus
  7. Calling/Career Path
  8. Relationships (Family, spouse, kids, etc.)
  9. Self Care/Health
  10. Passion

How I Am Trying To Say No
Most often I don’t, which is a major flaw of mine that I’m working on.  There are lots of criteria that are a part of my thought process, but here are a few of mine.

  1. Time with Family.  This is my single most important criteria. If what I take on, takes away from time with my family, then I say no.  If I really want to do it, then I need to find something else to say no to that allows me to do it without taking more time away from my family.  I see more and more people sacrifice family life, marriages, time with children because they simply have too much on their plate, don’t have proper boundaries, or just can’t say no.

  2. Passion.  I have to be pretty passionate about something these days to say yes to it.  If I’m not passionate, and don’t see me being able to put the time, energy and effort into it that is required, then I usually will say no.

  3. Self Care. If we do not take care of ourselves, then we can not adequately do the things we have to do.  If my body is run down all the time, and if I don’t exercise, or eat right, or get enough rest, then other things begin to suffer.

  4. Spiritual Discernment.  I think we would all like to say that discernment from the Holy Spirit is what helps us make the right decisions…and I think that is true.  But that’s what makes saying no to good things so hard…so tricky.  We wrestle with whether or not the opportunity is of God for us to pursue, or of God for us to say no to. Calling and vocation all get wrapped up in this part.

I’m curious. How do you say no to good things? What good thing(s) have you recently said no to? What was your thought process?

7 Comments

  1. by Justin Wise on November 18, 2008  3:12 pm Reply

    Rhett

    Great post. I like your criteria a ton. It's pretty much identical to the one that I use, except I call "Self Care" "Rest" - as in, "does it bring me to a place of rest and/or is my decision to be involved in said activity based in rest?"

    If so, then I say "yes". But you're right on, especially with the family aspect. Way too many families are sacrificed at the altar of ministry. Not interested.

  2. by Justin Wise on November 18, 2008  3:12 pm Reply

    Rhett

    Great post. I like your criteria a ton. It's pretty much identical to the one that I use, except I call "Self Care" "Rest" - as in, "does it bring me to a place of rest and/or is my decision to be involved in said activity based in rest?"

    If so, then I say "yes". But you're right on, especially with the family aspect. Way too many families are sacrificed at the altar of ministry. Not interested.

  3. by anne jackson on November 18, 2008  3:30 pm Reply

    i have a lot to say no to tonight...i have been procrastinating...

  4. by anne jackson on November 18, 2008  3:30 pm Reply

    i have a lot to say no to tonight...i have been procrastinating...

  5. by James on November 19, 2008  10:39 am Reply

    Very good post. Saying no can be a really tough one, especially if you come from a place of not really having to say no...but all to quickly you can get bogged under.

    For me, recently I have been having to say no to paid web-design jobs, which on the surface seems insane because i'm trying to go freelance full time...but God has got me doing other projects at the moment meaning that they take priority, as well as my lovely family!

  6. by andrewminchew on November 21, 2008  8:46 am Reply

    this is good to think about, especially now, when its time to start thinking about the next semester of classes, etc. people's routine's are changing and its a good opportunity to shift away from things that provide little to no spiritual or professional benefit.

    i enjoy your blog a lot, btw.

  7. by Simple Meditation on November 21, 2008  10:39 pm Reply

    Excellent content and style...keep up the good work!

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