How many times have you been in a situation when someone is asking you to do something and you think” I really should say no but I feel bad” So are faced with a decision. Do you say no and feel guilty, or you say yes and you feel stressed or even resentful.
The other night I was reading Laura Numerof’s book “If you give a mouse a cookie” to my kids. If you haven’t read it yet it’s about a little boy who is visited by a mouse and he offers him a cookie. The mouse then asks for a glass of milk and then continues to make requests after request, after request to the now exhausted boy.
At times I can so relate to that little boy. I am a caregiver, both as a vocation and in my personal life. So… at times i feel like I am being bombarded with requests. There are so many needs and there just isn’t’ enough time or energy to meet them all. I end up exhausted trying to keep up.
But this isn’t the example we are given by Jesus.
In Luke 5:13-16 Jesus had a similar experience where he was surrounded by needs.
Jesus healed a man who had leprosy and asked him to tell no one but show himself to the priest. The man (who was likely overwhelmed with joy) went and told a lot of people.
This triggered a crowd of people to surround Jesus asking to be healed of their infirmities.
It says in scripture that when Jesus was surrounded by the crowd of people he left them and withdrew to be by himself and prayed (Luke 5:16).
Jesus didn’t stay and meet their needs, he left them standing sick, broken and tired.
Can you imagine that? Just walking away from people in need?
Jesus set a boundary of what he was able to do at that time and he did no more.
Jesus chose to say yes, to spending time with God and no to the crowds of people needing healing.
For most people in the helping professions and ministry, it is very difficult to say no to a person in need.
However, Jesus did it.
In specific times Jesus said “No” to people and “Yes” to spending time alone, resting and refueling with time in prayer.
So let’s use Jesus’ example for saying no.
Rather than feeling guilty about saying no to someone, instead, choose what you are going to say yes to.
Because, when you say yes to someone’s needs, you invariably are saying no to something else.
When you stay late at work to talk to someone needing support, you are saying no to time at home with your family.
When you say yes to going to hanging out with your kids, you are saying no to the work that you would be doing at that time.
Saying yes to one thing is saying no to another.
So, intentionally choose what you are saying yes to.
Forever and ever and ever we will have people needing and wanting and asking from us.
Discerning appropriate boundaries for when we need time to refuel and rest is Godly.
So the next time someone asks you for help and you feel that you need to say no. Tell the person what you are going to say yes to.
You can say, “I’m sorry, I promised my family that I would be home in time for dinner tonight, can I catch up with you tomorrow?” or “I have already committed to finishing a project this week for someone else. Let’s touch base next week.”
9 times out of 10 the person requesting your help will honor your commitment and not feel rejected. And you can walk away honoring your commitments and not feel guilty.
So if saying “no” to someone in need is a challenge for you, instead tell them what your saying yes to.