How to say NO as a Christian
The truth is you simply can’t say yes to everyone.
Saying no might be one of the hardest things you will ever have to learn.
Affirm the request. Don’t start with “No.” First, affirm the request. Let your inquisitor know you are grateful for the inquiry, and that you appreciate the ask.
Be encouraging. Smile. Be genuinely encouraged that they picked you. This will help build rapport and equity before you say no.
Pray for wisdom. James tells us to pray for wisdom (James1:5). If an all-knowing God is down to give, then I’m down to ask. Ask God to help you with your schedule. “God, please give me wisdom. What would you like to fill my schedule with?” I find that over and over and over again when prayed for guidance God is faithful to answer and often through the wise counsel of others.
Say no firmly, but gently. Nothing can be worse to hear than ambiguity. More times than not, your listener is looking for a “Yes” or “No” answer. Give it to them. But be careful with coming off as off-putting or harsh. Let your words be gracious and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6) as you gently say no.
Suggest someone else. If you know you can’t say yes but have in mind someone who might then suggest that person. In doing this, you are helping solve the problem, and serving the person who asked.
Remember why you said no. You shouldn’t feel bad about saying NO. Why? Because you should feel excited about the yes. If you have to say no to one thing, it’s because you have to say yes to something else. Steer your emotional energy in the direction of the yes, not the no.
Remember the gospel. You might feel tempted to feel discouraged. The temptation for people-pleasing may arise. You might be concerned of what others think of you. Don’t. Remember the gospel. Your identity is not in what you do for the Lord, but what the Lord has done for you.
Trust God’s Providence. If Ephesians 1:11 is true, then God is arranging all things that happen, including, of course, your decisions. This is something that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend. But after the decision is made, trust that God’s Providence is guiding your every step.
The gospel removes our longings to prove ourselves, to live up to the standards of others. Jesus has already won that for you. So, say yes sometimes, and say no a lot. And don’t feel bad. Because as J. Oswald Sanders once said, “Every call for help is not necessarily a call from God, for it is impossible to respond to every need.”
Take the story of the five wise and foolish virgins and be ever so confident in your decision. Don’t worry so much about what others will say:
“Did I make the right decision?”
“Will they judge me?”
“Will, they ever ask for my help again?”
It is better to please God than man.