Are You Saying YES too much?



Many of us who serve on the “people-side” of the work / ministry world often face the challenge (and the need) to say both YES and NO to a variety of requests.

The reasons we are drawn to this type of work (people-helper) is often two-fold:  (1) a desire to truly serve people (the healthy side), helping them grow and achieve greater potential,  and/or (2) an inherent need to be validated as a person and the building of our own self-esteem (the unhealthy side) by being needed and wanted by others.

YES and NO are important words to the healthy, personal development of a leader.

In the early years of our development as leaders, we are each called on by God to say YES to various ministry tasks and opportunities. God uses a variety of people, events and circumstances (situations) to shape life direction (calling) and unique influence (contribution).

Somewhere along the way (often near the mid-game; 40s-50s), things begin to change. Needs and opportunities are confronted by the growing complexity of life, and the incredible lack of time. Each night leaders in this stage go to bed with more “not-done” than done. As the pressures grow, limits and stress push leaders to their limits. God uses these moments to refine a leader’s decision-making grid and clarity related to his/her contribution.

Leaders must begin to switch away from their customary response of YES to the many demands, to NO even with options that that are highly desirable. NO often feels like a very limiting word for leaders, especially when they fear the chance of “missing out.”  Leaders who do not learn to say NO to the many things, often will not have the bandwidth to say YES to the few things that God has uniquely designed for them to contribute.

A friend of mine, Greg Cootsona has written a great book on this very subject entitled; Say Yes to No. Greg explores more practical “how-to” helps. (

THREE TIPS on building greater capacity to say both NO… and YES

(1) Work on bringing clarity to your VALUES.

What are your core convictions? Begin to define a corresponding behavior to your values. (Example: I value RELATIONAL MINISTRY, therefore I will not say YES to opportunities where I cannot invest time in building relationship).

(2) Work on bringing clarity to your CONTRIBUTION.

What is your best understanding-to-date of the influence you bring to any environment you enter? Us that clarity as a decision-making grid for saying YES and NO. (Example: I resource and coach breakthrough in the lives of risk-taking Kingdom leaders, therefore I will not be at my best if I say YES to those who seek to maintain the status quo).

(3) Work on first saying NO!

Practice the discipline of saying and initial NO to an opportunity, and then let God bring it back into the picture if that is something you are suppose to take-on. This get hard and challenges your need to control your future. It  maybe even mean the loss of finance. I know. I am living this one out right now.


What else have you found helpful for you to better decide how to say YES! and NO!

Love to hear your comments?

© Terry Walling / 2013


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