One of my earliest memories regarding social/political things, would have to be the Just Say No drug awareness campaign in the early 80s. Former First Lady, Nancy Reagan, was the creator and a staunch supporter of this campaign, and it’s purpose was to inform kids of the various ways to say no, when propositioned with doing drugs. I guess the reason it grabbed my attention, at such an early age, was because it became a part of pop culture. TV shows, celebrity spokespeople, McGruff, and especially the t-shirts were very common for about a decade or so.
Fun fact: as First Lady, Nancy Reagan created a campaign to say NO to drugs. Our current First Lady created a campaign to say NO to junk food. Interesting…just sayin…
So, back to the point. We probably need to understand the value and importance of saying NO. Obviously, if you’re like me, you’re not constantly being propositioned to do drugs. Furthermore, I don’t necessarily need a campaign to heighten my awareness for such a thing, nor do I need a campaign to convince me to say NO in that situation. However, there are plenty of other things in life, where we all need to be reminded about the power of NO. So, with that said, here are a few life lessons I have learned about that little word NO.
- NO is an answer. We live in a YES world. We simply don’t like to hear the word NO directed towards us. And like our children, we as adults, keep asking over and over again, until we hear the answer that we want to hear. Well, we might not ask the questions repeatedly in life, but our behavior speaks volumes. If we are told no, we can’t have something that we really want, we go to someone else who we think will give us the answer that we want to hear. And then to another, and then another, and the search continues until we can get our yes. There’s a fine line between being persistent, and just accepting NO as an answer.
- NO doesn’t mean forever. I have had this conversation with adults recently. Just because I might have to say NO to something now, doesn’t mean I will have to say NO to it forever. For example, because of this particular season of life that my wife and I are in, and because of the many responsibilities that we have with our children (and hosting an exchange student from China), our schedules primarily revolve around them right now. However, in the next 5-10 years, that will significantly change for us. So while we choose to say NO to some things right now, we won’t have to say NO to them forever.
- NO might be better than YES. Youth Ministry legend Doug Fields wrote a book several years ago titled What Matters Most…When NO Is Better Than YES. This book has really ministered to me over the years. In fact, I probably have ticked some people off occasionally, because I have said NO to them. Ladies and gentlemen, we must understand these NO principles. While it might not be better for you, it might be better for me to say NO than to say YES.
- NO keeps us operating in our wheelhouse. One of the great tragedies in the church, and specifically in ministry, is over-involvement. Common sense will tell you, that the more ministries that you are involved in, the more you have to share or divide your focus and attention. This prevents us from giving our very best to one, or at most two areas of focus. I completely understand the dynamics within a church, or any other organization of company for that matter, which sometimes requires people to be involved in multiple areas. Clearly, if we can say NO to other opportunities, we will be able to operate in our wheelhouse, or what we’re really good at and passionate about, thus increasing our effectiveness.
- When you say YES to one thing, you’re essentially saying NO to another. I understand this is a constant battle that we all face, but consider for just a moment who the real winners and losers will be. Again, in this current season of my life, my wife and I choose our children above pretty much anything and everything else. I hope that folks that depend on us, will understand, but the reality is, when I say YES to someone else, I might just be saying NO to my kids. And that I am not okay with.
I don’t want my children to be the losers of this YES/NO battle that we are constantly involved in.
Bottom line. Sometimes we just have to SAY NO. Understand the dynamics involved. Respond graciously when someone tells you NO, because you won’t always understand who they’ll be saying YES to. And finally, when there is just cause, don’t be afraid to say NO.
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