Saying no can be a difficult thing to do, especially when people are in need or you feel obligated to say yes. But learning to say this two letter word can help save you a lot of heartache and bring you some much needed peace in your life. There are multiple things in your life you may need to say no to at certain times and here are just a few examples:

Serving opportunities that aren’t for you, or your season in life, right now. 

Serving in your local church is an honor and a great way to get connected with others who are on the same journey with God. It helps you to become a giver instead of simply receiving from others each week. As you start to grow in your relationship with God and your heart to give grows, you then become an invaluable asset to your church as you help reach new people and help others grow closer to God. There is always a need for a person like this in any church, but just because there is a need, doesn’t mean you are automatically supposed to fill that need. It’s important to stay in tune with God and really focus on serving where he has called you to. This helps ensure you stay fulfilled and excited about what you are doing, as well as helps maximize your effectiveness in helping others.

My husband and I have had to say no to multiple serving opportunities in our church because we knew we just didn’t have the time or that this extra commitment would overburden ourselves and resources. These were great opportunities to serve, they just weren’t for us at that time. Just recently, we stepped out of serving in our worship department after being on the team for 7 years so we could focus on a bigger role in our church’s small group ministry. It was very difficult saying goodbye to something that had been a part of our lives for so long and something we both enjoyed very much, but we sensed that God wanted us to focus on something else and maximize our effectiveness there. After almost 6 months, we are very glad we listened to God and had the courage to say no, and we are seeing God open doors and bring forth amazing opportunities in our lives we never imagined.

Negative relationships that drain you, emotionally and financially. 

This one is often one of the most difficult things to say no to. Maybe you feel responsible for an aging parent, or a lifelong best friend, and when you “help” them you feel so drained, whether it’s emotionally, financially or both. We are called to help people right? So then it must be a good thing that we help them when they clearly need help, right?

It depends on whether this person is avoiding responsibility to take care of themselves. If they are spending a lot of money on cigarettes or alcohol and are in jeopardy of their utilities being cut off because of it, then no, you are not responsible for that. If your aging parent needs you to pay for their mortgage because they refuse to downsize to a smaller house and you are struggling to make ends meet yourself, then you are not responsible to cover their expenses in addition to yours. You are not called to be responsible for someone who isn’t taking responsibility for themselves. Obviously, you want to do what you can and we do have an obligation to help our aging parents and friends if we have the means and if they are taking responsibility for themselves. But that may mean helping your parents downsize to a more affordable house/apartment or helping your friend find an alternate source of income if they are unwilling to curb their spending in specific areas. The bottom line is that someone’s lack of responsibility shouldn’t cause your life and finances to spiral out of control just because they expect you to rescue them.

Your children. 

This one is often hard for parents, especially single parents who think they need to compensate for the fact they are the only parent in their child’s life. We as parents want to give our kids the world, especially if we didn’t have a lot growing up. The fact of the matter is that your children don’t have to have every new gadget (cell phone, tablet, computer, etc.), every brand of designer clothes, go to every party or event, or join every sport. In fact, teaching your kids that life is more than having “stuff” and that they are perfectly capable of being fulfilled and happy without it, is a much better blessing to them in the long run than spending money on something they will grow tired of in 6 months anyway. As your children get older, people will say no to them, and God will even say no to them for certain things in their best interest, and it’s best for them to learn to be ok with that.