Have you ever been asked to commit to something and answered yes before you stopped to think about it?
Years ago, when my pastor’s wife invited me to lunch, I was thrilled. I’d always considered her a godly woman, someone I’d love to get to know better. We enjoyed our meal, and then she sprang a question I didn’t expect.
“Would you pray about being our women’s ministry coordinator?”
About a million emotions and thoughts flashed through my mind in a nanosecond. Did I want to say yes?
But this would be a big commitment. Should I agree, spiritual warfare was a given. And how would it affect my marriage and my current positions in ministry?
I asked for some time to pray about my answer.
Whether an ask is “big” or “small,” we shouldn’t rush to commit to something. Rather, we should step back, and consider the impact on our current schedules, our family relationships, and other life issues.
When someone asks us to commit to something
Determining the best answer to a request will be shaped by how well we understand our personal values (click to tweet). Then we can:
Consider each ask with these things in mind:
- What are my core values?
- Does this activity align with my personal values?
- Is this something I sense God is calling me to?
- Is this an activity I will enjoy?
Especially if we mentally answer “no” to one of those last questions, our response should be NO.
Are we going to let people down sometimes? Yes.
Perspectives to consider before we commit to something:
- Especially when we’ve prayed, our no gives someone else an opportunity to say yes, and possibly live into their values.
- Pleasing God should be a higher priority than pleasing people.
- When we say yes to something we shouldn’t, it will impact other areas of our lives and sometimes even our well-being.
We may experience internal and external discord when we want to say yes but we need to say no. Whether that is to an activity, a commitment, a relationship, or something else.
How do we manage the discord?
When we understand our personal values—the values God has nurtured within us—the discord will be less.
If the discord is internal, we need to talk with the Lord about what’s causing that unsettledness.
Is there an out-of-whack motivation prompting us to say yes? If so, let’s talk with God about it and ask Him to reveal what it is. Then, we must pray for His wisdom and guidance and for an accurate perspective before we commit to something.
Is there a sense of obligation? Maybe we need to revisit why we feel obligated to say yes to the thing and ask God for His perspective.
Do we feel guilty about our answer? If so, let’s ask the Lord to show us what’s at the root of that guilt. Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If we feel guilt and we have something to confess to the Lord, let’s ask for forgiveness and ask God to renew our minds regarding that situation.
When we feel external tension from people and situations, we should step back and ask for God’s perspective on the situation.
There may be times when we need to say no but the pressure to say yes is strong. Maybe this is because the ask is for something we genuinely want to do but can’t in this season of life. It’s okay to let that go. If God has given us this desire, we can pray He’ll bring another opportunity at a better time.
If someone is trying to manipulate us into a yes we really shouldn’t give, we need to pray for the best way to say no.
When we understand our personal values, we can weigh our “yes” and evaluate if what we’re “yessing” fits within the framework of those values. Our personal values help us know whether we should commit to something someone asks. If the ask doesn’t fit within the framework, then, almost always, our answer should be “No.”
As for my answer to our pastor’s wife all those years ago, after praying, I believed God prompted me to answer yes. My time serving the women in our church was an unforgettable, growing experience.
When our highest priority is to live at the center of God’s will, it’s okay to let people down. And to trust He will work in the asker’s heart, even as He’s working in ours.
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What about you? How do you determine when to commit to something? How do you handle discord in yes-no situations?
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Such good encouragement here, Jeanne, to walk in wisdom.
Thanks so much, Lisa!
I can imagine your position of Women’s Ministry Coordinator was a growing experience. I find the right “yes” does lead to growing, and the wrong “yes” may lead to burning out. Goals also help me with my “yes” and “no” decisions. I can get drawn into other opportunities that do not fit in with my long term dream goals, because they seem like really good opportunities! Taking time to pray….oh, so important!
Lynn, that position WAS a growing experience. A lot of humbling. Learning to look to the Lord, especially when people acted, well, so human. You’re right. The wrong yes can indeed lead to burnout. I like what you shared about goals helping you with your yeses and nos. They help us stay focused on our “main things,” don’t they? I loved your insights here, my friend.
Jeanne, I’m thinking back to a time when I was asked to be the women’s ministry coordinator and I said no. What you’ve written is prompting some soul searching because, while I had some discord in my heart about whether I should do it, it’s very possible my “no” was driven by fear. I know for sure other decisions were during various seasons of my life. I suppose what I can take from this now, as I look into the great unknown, is that I can’t let fear play a role in how I look at any opportunities that might come up in the future. Not that I will say yes to everything (your counsel about this is so wise) but that I need to trust God to direct me and not let fear be the guide. I so appreciate this very timely post, my friend.
Lois, Age offers 20/20 hindsight, doesn’t it? I imagine you’ve also given some yeses in the ensuing years that led to fulfillment. You’re so right. We can’t allow fear to play a role in how we gauge opportunities that come our way. Trusting God for His direction is the best course of action! Thanks for sharing this, my friend.
What great points! Thank you for sharing. This is an area I constantly have to work on.
I am highlighting your article on my Pinterest Board “Grace & Truth Christian Link-up | Featured Posts.”
Thanks for your encouraging words, sweet friend.8 find myself often working on this … still.
Thank you for this insightful advice, Jeanne. God has taught you so much. I love the idea of asking ourselves questions. And you encourage me as you remind me we need not feel guilty if we can’t do something we want to. In this season of life with limited physical and mental energy, I needed the reminder that God never condemns. I just need to “be,” not to “do.” Love and blessings to you!
Trudy, I’m blessed you found this post encouraging. You’re right. God never condemns us. If we’re feeling guilt, we know who it’s from, don’t we? And yes and amen to “Be” not “Do.” So thankful for you, friend!
Saying “no” can be difficult for me–as it is for so many. I’m learning more to rely on His answer for me than my own but it usually requires time spent in prayer. Thanks for sharing your insight!
Saying no can be difficult for me too, my friend. And yes, that time spent in prayer can be so pivotal for us, can’t it? Thank you so much for stopping by.
Such great advice here, Jeanne. Too often we feel like we have to immediately answer “yes,” especially if it’s a ministry opportunity. But that’s not always the right answer. We really do need to take time to pray and consider so many things. Years ago I was asked to serve as the children’s minister at our church. It took me awhile to come to yes, but I caveated it in my head by only committing for a year, then reevaluating. It helped give me the freedom to say yes, which I did. I ended up serving 3 years before turning it over to someone else again. 🙂
Lisa, YES. I’ve definitely had seasons where I felt like I had to say yes to a church ministry request because, well, it was serving the church. I love how you approached the request to serve in children’s ministry and how you caveated your yes. That was so wise! I’m sure your church appreciated your yes!
Hey Jeanne …. I love this melding of personal values and our yes be yes and our no be no. So Scriptural, so wise, so healthy.
Linda, thank you for your encouraging words. It’s taken me many years to understand how crucial it is for us to know our personal values and how much they will guide our daily lives. I’m thankful for you, friend.
I so loved what you said here: “When our highest priority is to live at the center of God’s will, it’s okay to let people down. And to trust He will work in the asker’s heart, even as He’s working in ours.” Good words to someone who struggles with people-pleasing.
Jerralea, thank you for your encouraging words. I have definitely struggled with people-pleasing. It’s a terrible taskmaster! Sending you a hug.
Great post Jeanne! One that I have been guilty of in my younger days in saying ‘yes’ before counting the cost. But they were valuable lessons although hard learned.
Since, I have always gone to the Lord in prayer, incorporating journaling & sought His will for the situation & my best ‘Yes’ for me is actually saying ‘No’ to the request. God always has His perfect will for the situation.
Jennifer, it seems like it takes those unwise “yeses” in our youth to enable us to gain the perspective of knowing when to say yes and when to say no. Your example of praying and looking at the bigger picture is beautiful, my friend.
Thank you Jeanne.
Lots og ideas to help us decide when to say yes, and when to say no. Thanks Jeanne!
I’m glad you found this helpful, Kathy!
When it all boils down to it,
No would have been my final answer
if God had asked me to commit
to the ride of pancreatic cancer,
but my advice was never asked
(it would have shook me to the core);
I was chosen, then was tasked,
but it was what He made me for,
starting with a life of Zen,
protection in the worst of places,
helping me to learn and then
instructing in the Christian graces
that I’d see cancer’s nuanced whole,
not mere destruction of my soul.
Andrew, this poem . . . such a beautiful testimony of how God has used cancer to change and renew your spirit. I love, love this.
This is good advice, Jeanne! I definitely have a tendency to say yes too quickly, either because I’m flattered to be asked or I don’t want to let people down. It’s also hard when I can see that something needs to be done. It is so important to pause and consider if it’s actually something that God is asking of me.
Lesley, I understand those motivations for saying yes. Been there, done that, my friend. I’m glad you found these words helpful!
People Pleasers and Yes Decisions – what a possibly dangerous life combination. As I’ve read through your previous posts about people pleasing, it has made me want to re-evaluate the definition of the word “guilt” in my life – and how it makes me feel bad if I “fail,” “don’t live up to standards,” “don’t meet expectations.” I’m going to be mulling over both ideas to enable setting healthier responses. I am so glad you dived into this series for us.
Maryleigh, I believe re-evaluation is good from time to time. I’m learning that sometimes we need to change our mindset to accurately understand guilt and what is behind it in our lives. I so appreciate your transparency here, friend.
We do need to “count the cost.” I remember my whole family cheering when I gave up a taxing position I’d been in. I asked why they hadn’t let me know their feelings. They hadn’t wanted to detract from what I was doing. But they were my calling too!
Debbie, it’s interesting that our families sometimes choose not to tell us when our choices impact them. When my sons were little, one of them made sure I knew if he thought I was spending too much time at my laptop writing and not enough time with him. We have to be sensitive to our family’s needs even as we seek to fulfill the callings God gives us. Becuase, yes, our family is our first calling. I so appreciate you sharing this!
Good tips, Jeanne. One ladies ministry coordinator in a former church used to say, “Don’t say no until you pray about it.” But it’s good to pray before saying yes as well, even if I am pretty sure my answer will be yes. Sometimes I might be carried away with my own enthusiasm and forget to consider some ramification. Just occasionally I have felt compelled to say yes to something I didn’t think I’d enjoy. It turned out all right. I might never seek such an opportunity again, but felt God wanted me to do it at the time.
Barbara, I love what you said about praying before saying yes as well as saying no. I’ve definitely been caught up in enthusiasm and had to take a step back to consider the ramifications. I also appreciate your insight that sometimes God does ask us to do something even though it doesn’t seem like something we should say yes to. Hence the reason to always pray first, right? 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your insights here!
Jeanne, great topic and advice! I think too many times we think just because an offer involves church service or ministry, we “have to” take it because God wants us serving. I agree with your prompt to keep things centered on God’s will. While God certainly wants us serving, every ministry opportunity is not ours.
We must exercise discernment as to how God wants us to be helping Him build His kingdom. The enemy is good at sending us on guilt trips or having us fill our schedules with so many “good” things we must the important ones God actually has for us!
Donna, yes to all you said! I had someone tell me once that if I was asked to do something, that was God’s yes. I’ve since decided that just because I’m asked to serve in some way doesn’t mean I’m the one meant to fill that particular role. Discernment and prayer are crucial pieces in deciding what we say yes to. And true, not allowing the enemy to guilt us into an answer God hasn’t given us is important. Loved your thoughts here, friend!