When you say no to something in your life, it achieves three powerful things. Certainly, you shouldn’t be saying no to everything in the world, but we could all be a little more discerning of our time and priorities.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 NIV
It’s probably the first word we learn. “No” is the answer to every question a toddler has. Not because parents want to keep the toddler from having fun, but because they want to protect the child. It’s probably during this time that we learn that saying no is a bad thing.
Saying no to something allows you to keep your priorities front and center and keep clarity around your vision. Saying no isn’t shirking responsibility; it’s saying, “I can’t be excellent in what I’ve already said yes to and say yes to this opportunity.”
Before we go on, let’s get something clear. Saying no and quitting something isn’t an easy way out. This blog post isn’t about permission to quit when something gets tough. It’s about deciding to be excellent. You’ll never achieve the success you want if you say yes to everything and continue trying to do it all.
Don’t Be A Yes-Man
Chances are you aren’t in danger of reading this and then quitting your family or church (if you are, please contact us so we can pray for you). Most men have a yes problem. They want to do so much for the kingdom and their family and their friends and work. It’s exhausting to write it!
Saying yes to someone or something adds something to your plate. The more yesses mean more to-dos, and attention needs to be paid to those “yesses.” It divides your focus. With a divided focus, you lose the clarity that your priorities provide.
Instead of saying yes immediately, you should follow this rule.
New Rule: When I say yes, I will say no to two other things.
Saying No Creates Priority
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint
but blessed is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18
Men often mistakenly use the word “priorities.” The word itself means there can only be one. Priorities, as a word, can be an oxymoron. If you have unordered priorities, you have things you think are equally important. When all things are equally important, nothing is relevant anymore. You might not define them that way personally, but priorities, when used correctly, create order.
For example, many men say their list of priorities in order is, “God, their family, then business.” However, these same men work late hours, and don’t attend church, let alone have a “quiet” time. This list isn’t about judging you for working hard, but it’s clear from the actions you take what your priorities are.
Making sure your first priority is satisfied and moving on to the next one gives you the incredible power to say no to anything that interferes with that. If God is first and your family falls into an immediate second, then new opportunities can be evaluated against that. If you get a new job opportunity that requires a lot of travel? It’s easy to say no if family time is your priority. Priorities (properly ordered) help define your boundaries very clearly in many cases. Where you struggle to say no, you likely have undefined boundaries.
Saying No Creates Value
When you say no, you are creating a scarcity. Scarcity is the essence of value. We value gold because it’s finite, it’s limited, it’s scarce. When you say no to that job offer, you’re telling your family and yourself that you value something more significant than that job. Every time you say no to something, you’re saying that your “yesses” are more important.
Saying No Creates Clarity
“And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.'” – Habakkuk 2:2
There is nothing like having the ability to say no immediately. It indicates crystal clarity around a matter. Often people will ask for our attention, and we’ll be at odds internally with upsetting them. However, the only person that knows how much you have on your plate is you. The only one that defines your priorities is you. There isn’t any explanation needed. Saying no empowers you by solidifying in your mind what is a priority. It’s just an answer to a question for the person asking (or the opportunity arising).
This confidence in saying no allows you to devote more time and energy to what matters. Clarity of vision will allow your life to have a more significant impact. The enemy wants nothing more than to distract us from our mission. As men, it’s our job to lead our household. We can only have the bandwidth to lead effectively by mastering the power of saying no.