That’s how we started this three-part blog series yesterday. (If you missed part one you can catch up here).
Henry Cloud and John Townsend, in their book, Boundaries, say, “When you are as free to say no to a request as you are to say yes, you are well on the way to boundary maturity.”
Yesterday we discussed the first two scenarios in which you can and should say “NO” and feel no guilt or shame! Today we’ll discuss two more and tomorrow we’ll look at three times you can and should say “YES” and feel free to enjoy it!
Here we go…
#3 You should say “NO” and not feel guilty about it if you don’t have the margin to help!
This is a tough one for lots of us… especially Christians! Check out these verses:
16 We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters.
Most Christians stop right there and say, “See! There it is… in writing! I should give up my life for others. The problem with this is that they don’t read the very next verse!
17 But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help — how can God’s love be in that person? (1 John 3:16-17 NLT)
“Enough money to live well.” What does that mean? Well, beyond the obvious command to help when we see and have the means, it also implies that there might be a time when you are not able to help because you do NOT have enough.
Think about this…
- Can I feed you if I don’t have food in my house?
- Can I keep you warm if I don’t have heat in my house?
- Can I help pay your electric if I can’t pay my own?
The answer to all of these questions is obvious… DUH! NO!
The answers that come so easily when it comes to material things seem to come much harder when we are talking about emotional and spiritual things. Let me ask the same basic questions but replace the material things with emotional and spiritual things.
- Can I encourage you if I am deeply discouraged?
- Can I help you find strength if I am depressed?
- Can I help you lift your weight if I am burdened by the weight of despair?
The answer to these is the same as the answer to the questions above, “NO”. It’s just harder to say. The truth is that there will be times in your life when you simply do not have the margin (e.g. emotional, physical, time, money, spiritual, etc.) to help, and in those instances it is mature to both recognize and say, “I cannot help you now. I’m sorry.”
Cloud and Townsend say it like this, “It is more responsible to give out of our resources than to promise that which we might not be able to deliver.”
The last time it is good and right to say “NO”…
#4 Do not feel guilty when you say “No” if saying yes means being dishonest about yourself.
I LOVE this story about Jesus… He was telling a group of people about who He was and what He was doing (Read the story in John 6:22-70). Many had a hard time accepting what He was saying… and they walked away from Him. At this point many of us would have panicked… “AHHHHHH I’m losing my friends!” and then we would edit ourselves to meet their approval! Not Jesus. As many were walking away from Him, he turned to his closest friends (the apostles) and said, “Are you going to leave, too?”
Jesus was so clear about who He was and what He was supposed to do that He was willing to let people leave His life if they didn’t like it! He didn’t scramble to keep them. He didn’t try to edit God’s plan to keep His “friends.” When they wanted Him to change who He was and what He was going to do He said, “NO.” (Check out this story about how Jesus dealt with a good friend who wanted Him to “tame down” God’s plan. It’ll take your breath away!)
As I think about this I am coming to believe that you will NOT become the man or woman God wants you to be until you are ready to say “NO” to what others want you to be.
Lots of people are living little lives, small dreams, and have little futures because they are afraid to say “NO” to what other people want them to be and do.
Here’s the scoop, if there is conflict between what God wants for you and what your friends want for you… you’re going to say “NO” to someone. Who will it be?
Feel free to say “NO” to people if saying “Yes” means you are editing yourself to be something less than God created you to be. Say “NO” and don’t feel guilty or embarrased!