Do you remember Nancy Reagan’s war against drugs? “Just Say No!” was the advised response for when offered drugs. Between her campaign and the fire department’s “Stop, Drop, and Roll”, I fully expected to be daily offered drugs while spontaneously combusting.
I was recently talking with a good friend and mentor. He is about 16 years ahead of me in life and has been a source of wisdom, encouragement, and laughs. I’m going through a particularly pressing time right now with life responsibilities, and in an effort to help me, he said to me,
“If you don’t disappoint or frustrate some people between now and Christmas you are not saying, ‘no’ enough.”
I hate disappointing or frustrating people. So much so that I try to avoid it at all costs. However, that cost is one that I shouldn’t be willing to pay. Personal health, the discipleship of my family, and joy in Christ should not be sacrificed on the altar of pleasing people. However, I do it again and again.
Anyone else have a chair at that altar with me?
Here is the lesson: we have to say “no” to the right things.
We all will eventually say “no” when we get pressed enough. The Enemy knows this and stores up a crafty temptation for us. When we are at a breaking point, he encourages us to say “no” to the very things that should give us life: Bible reading, prayer, corporate worship, singing, reading helpful books, and meaningful discussions with Christian friends are the places where our enemy encourages us to say “no.”
In reality, those are the places that will give us life, energy, and encouragement. Binge-watching Netflix, eating a half-gallon of ice cream, and sleeping until 11:00 AM sounds rejuvenating at the moment but leaves us dissatisfied and feeling guilty. Saying no to the wrong things is one of the most common mistakes I have seen (and experienced!) over the past 20 years of pastoral ministry.
Be aware of the enemy’s strategy (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8).
Say ‘no’ to what will keep you from growing in Christ. Say ‘no’ to a responsibility if it will keep you from serving Christ well. Say ‘no’ to an opportunity if it will interfere with what is expected of you as a child of God’s. And say, ‘no’ to an expectation if it is unrealistic.
So, you do need to say “no” but make sure you are saying “no” to the right things.