I teach 4th grade Sunday School. The Children’s Ministry Director where I serve asked me to pray about having the 3rd grade in the class as well. I didn’t need to pray about it. I told them that I would not say no to that if they deemed it necessary. We cannot always be saying yes, and cannot always say no to requests made to us.
I attended a church where they began to focus on people serving in only 1 “major” and 1 “minor” ministry in the church so people did not get “burned out”. I sat in many meetings where I was advised to minimize my service in various ministries in the church. It seemed that near the end of those meetings where I was told to minimize what I do, I would be asked if I could do something for them. I was getting mixed messages from the leadership.
When I served as a Children’s Pastor, there times when I said “No” and the reaction from leadership was what you would probably expect.
The senior pastor would often wait until Sunday morning to delegate various tasks. At the time, we would ask for prayer requests from the congregation before a time of prayer. This Sunday, the senior pastor asked me if I would do that part of the service. I thought for a moment and my response was no. I couldn’t do it that Sunday. Was I opposed to prayer? Why wouldn’t I do this task that pastors are often asked to do and are generally willing to accept? I said no because I knew that I was not ready for that role at that time. It was not long after both of my parents went to be with the Lord. While the senior pastor may have been trying to get me “back in the saddle”, I was still mourning personally and I knew that I was not prepared to publicly handle requests that might involve parents with illnesses unto death, or requests for peace for families who lost loved ones. Though I tried to hide it, I still needed those prayers myself! The senior pastor did not ask why I said no, but I could see the look of surprise in his eyes.
Another time was when the leadership was planning a church-wide meeting where everyone was encouraged to attend. It was not an event for children to attend. During the meeting, I was asked about providing childcare for the event. I had enlisted the help of people from another church once already for a similar, shorter, meeting, but for this all-day that could go longer, I said no, I would not organize childcare for it. This time, I gave my reasons. I shared that if I was responsible for the childcare, then my focus would not be on this important meeting, but on how the children were being cared for, and how those enlisted for the childcare were faring. Many were shocked at my “defiance”. One person who served frequently for church events understood and expressed their agreement with my perspective. The outcome, childcare was provided, but I was not responsible for it. Yes I still had concerns about the childcare being provided, but the burden, the responsibility, was not “on my shoulders”.
Saying no was very freeing for me. It allowed me to heal, it allowed me to have my focus where it needed to be, it allowed me to be free to say YES to other things that needed to be done.
It is not a sin to say no. Others may not always understand, and it should not be out of defiance, but you know what you are able to do – there are times when we need to say yes to things out of our “comfort zone” (things we may not think we can do) so we can grow, so our faith will increase.
Seek God for wisdom and discernment in when you should say yes, and when you should say no.