Just Say No
Just Say No
Setting Healthy Boundaries
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37
I knew Saturday was going to be frantic.
With a baseball parade early in the morning, two baseball games, a soccer game and a car that needed to be repaired, my husband and I were going to have to hustle to make all those activities work.
Once the baseball parade finished, I left our younger son with my husband and hustled to the soccer field with our eldest. As soon as we arrived, one of the moms whose son was on Joshua’s team rushed over and asked if I could take her son home after the game. She had a church meeting and really didn’t want to miss it.
Being a people pleaser who struggles with saying no, it took all I had to explain to her everything I had going on that day and that I was simply not able to help her out.
Not willing to take no for an answer, and sensing my vulnerability, the lady insisted she had commitments that had to be kept. Then she stared.
So, I said yes. She took my phone number, gave me her address and left.
As soon as the match was over, we rushed to the car and drove home so that my husband could focus on the car repairs while I hurried to the baseball complex to see Daniel’s second baseball game. When we arrived home, I had this overwhelming sense that I was forgetting something. Yup! During all the chaos I had left Joshua’s teammate at the field!
I felt so disappointed with myself. I frantically got in the car and started driving, praying and hoping the young boy was okay. I was able to reach the coach who, by God’s grace, had seen that the boy needed help and offered him a ride home.
I was very relieved that the young man was safe. I was also frustrated that my inability to say no caused so much stress for so many and could have put the young boy in danger.
Looking back on that day, I learned a number of lessons about the importance of saying no at the right time and for the right reasons:
- Saying no does not make me selfish or a lousy follower of Jesus. It makes me responsible and accountable.
- Saying no establishes healthy relational boundaries.
- Saying no prevents me from becoming an enabler.
- Saying no prevents me from disrupting teachable God moments (for me and others).
- Saying no protects my personal responsibilities, priorities and obligations.
- Saying no creates an environment for God to step in and do what only He can do!
- Saying no allows others to grow, mature and carry their load.
- Saying no brings peace, allows rest and renewal.
- Saying no protects our limited time and allows us to say yes to what really matters.
Did Jesus ever say no?
As part of my reflection, I went to two of my favorite sources of wisdom and sound counsel regarding personal boundaries. The first was God’s Word. The second was the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
As I searched the Scriptures, I learned that Jesus was not a yes-man. There were moments when He said no or chose not to engage or respond to all the people’s needs or wants.
Jesus said no to the sick
In Mark 1:34-38 we read that Jesus “cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons.” When the news of His healing power spread, more and more people who needed His healing touch lined up in Capernaum.
“Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ He told them, ‘Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.’” Mark 1:35-38
Jesus knew that His ministry was not just the ministry of physical healing but the ministry of preaching God’s Kingdom. Because He had limited time, He was not able to stay in one town. He had to leave some physical needs unmet so that He could “go to nearby villages” and preach to fulfill His ultimate purpose. He refused to be defined as a “miracle worker.” He was the Son of God who came to heal and save our souls.
Jesus said no to social justice
In Luke 12:13-15 we read about a man who came to Jesus asking for His involvement in a personal matter of right and wrong. “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” [But] Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”
Many expected Jesus to take the side of the needy brother who was being cheated out of his part of the inheritance. Jesus did no such thing. He refused to be roped into being a legal arbiter, and used this opportunity to shine the light on the more important issues of our heart condition and the greed that can so easily entangle us.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend say the following about boundaries:
“Any confusion of responsibility and ownership in our lives is a problem of boundaries. Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t.…The inability to set appropriate boundaries at appropriate times with the appropriate people can be very destructive.”
We were never designed to be the solution to every problem or to carry everyone’s load. What the Lord asks of us is to help carry each other’s burdens. Understanding the difference is the key to setting healthy boundaries.
Where do you find yourself today?
Are you living and leading out of sense of guilt and inability to say no? Is people-pleasing a struggle for you? Or maybe you are on the opposite side of the spectrum, quietly manipulating and pressuring others to say yes, never taking no for an answer?
Whatever the answer, recognize your tendencies, and draw from the wisdom of God’s Word first. Then reach for tools like the book Boundaries which is a great resource to help you find balance in building strong personal and professional relationships based on healthy boundaries.
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