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Why You Should Be Saying NO More Than You Do

  • Liz Kanoy What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
  • Updated Sep 14, 2015

Many summers ago, I interned for Campus Crusade for Christ International at their headquarters in Florida. We had to share a devotional once a week for our team meetings, and one of my co-workers spoke on how we shouldn’t let ministry take the place of time with God. Her reasoning was that even Jesus took time apart from everyone and everything else, even ministry; He went to lonely places to spend time with His Father. Luke 5:16 and Mark 1:35 are two examples of this. This opened my eyes to how I should be spending and scheduling my time, but it's something I need to be reminded of often.

Emily Freeman has written a similar plea, Space for Your Soul to Breathe, on her blog site (in)courage. She begins by discussing the busy schedules so many of us have and the inability to say no as much as we need or want to.  She describes how it felt when she was at her busiest:

“What happened during that busy season was I started to wilt on the inside. I’m not sure how else to explain it, but the constant deadlines and productivity combined with my travel schedule left me feeling empty and rushed.”  Freeman continues,

“…But I thought maybe this was the way it had to be in order to do what I felt called to do and be who I felt called to be.”

Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. Whether you have a family, are married, single, always working, constantly volunteering, or are part of an outgoing group of friends it can be hard to say no to things. You may not want to say no to things, or you may feel like you can’t say no or that you shouldn’t say no.

Freeman points out that we have to take into consideration our individual personalities and goals. She relays,

We are all made differently in the image of God… We have to consider our season of life and our personality, as well as the needs and personalities of those in our family. We have to consider our goals, vision, and the resources we need to reach them.

There will be people who ask you to do meaningful things, fun things, or even hard things that are part of worthy causes. Just because you’re not busy that day doesn’t mean you have to say yes. Freeman says that her reason for saying no to things is not that she’s too busy, but rather because she’s not and she has to fight to keep it that way.

Freeman explains, “My soul isn’t made for hurry and neither is yours.”

If you’re single or married without kids, you may feel like you can’t say no the way that someone with a family can, but that’s simply not true. All of our souls are made to rest, and if we’re not doing that then no matter what our life circumstances are we need to stop and make time for the One who gives us time. I’m not talking about a little time slot carved out of a busy schedule; I’m talking about a total overhaul. Until you’re resting your soul first with everything else following, then events you choose to participate in will only glorify busyness.

Freeman says, “If you take this [need to rest your soul] seriously, here is what might happen:

You will uncover a fear of missing out like you haven’t felt since middle school. You will second guess your no and worry over your yes. You will suddenly notice all the important things your friends and co-workers are accomplishing, planning, enjoying, and launching. But here’s something else that might happen if you keep at it. Your yes will become more clear. Your no will come more easily. You might smile more, laugh harder, and even be able to be more spontaneous with friends and family.

She adds,

This isn’t a passive exercise. This takes courage and movement. Jesus invites all the weary and heavy-laden souls to come to Him [Matthew 11:28-30}. It’s a real invitation, one that promises rest as the result. But first, you have to come. And to come to Him in this moment means turning from the thing you’re holding on to instead.

To read Emily Freeman’s entire blog post please visit  her blog (in)courage. She has also created a series of videos with practical ideas on how to create space for your soul to breathe, you can watch the first one here.

Not sure if you’re too busy? Read 4 Signs You May be Addicted to Busyness by Kelly Givens, Editor for 

Givens reminds us,

As Christians, our identity hinges not on what we do but on what Christ has done for us. Check your heart—are you finding your worth in a busy calendar and people depending on you? It may be time to reevaluate why you’re so busy. Ask God to help you move away from glorying in your busyness and instead toward glorying in His rest.

Liz Kanoy is an Editor for

Publication date: September 14, 2015