Why "No" Is One Of The Most Important Words In Youth Ministry
So when someone says, "You going to do the ski trip?," you're like, "Sure."
And then there's the fundraiser . . .
The student who wants you to run to the game . . .
The parent who wants you to put their kid in that small group . . .
And the list goes on and on and on . . .
It's a nasty habit, saying "yes." And it's addictive, too. The more we say "yes," the more smiles we see. (And who doesn't like smiles?) But, suddenly, we have too much on our plate and, "Bam!" we start messing things up, breaking promises, and those smiles turn into frowns.
That's why we need to know how to say "no."
Look, saying "no" is hard. But it's not as hard as apologizing for something you could have avoided. So how can we make sure we say no?
Whether it's your pastor, your ministry point people, a staff person, or your spouse, you need to make sure there is someone who knows your weaknesses. You need to be vulnerable with this person, which I know is somewhat intimidating; but it's important to have people who are watching out for you making sure you don't have too much on your plate.
Know Your Big 5
Maybe it's not 5 (maybe it's 3 or 2), but let's just say 5. What are the 5 core responsibilities that go along with your job description? When you know your 5, you can determine whether saying "yes" to something is going to wear you down or help fuel your mission. Now, there will be times where we need to say "yes" because of our position; however, we need to play to our strengths and protect our core responsibilities. We can't do this unless we know what they are.
When do you start your day and when do you go home? When do you have family time and when do you have time with God? I try to make it a personal goal that when I leave work, I really leave work. When I walk into my house, I no longer want to play youth pastor; I want to play house. I make sure I leave at a set time that is consistent each week and that I arrive at a set time. I want to make sure I'm never cheating family or cheating work. Again there are exceptions but when you set guidelines you can determine whether this "extra task" interferes with home or your quiet time with God.
I know saying "no" can be painful because we don't want to disappoint or let someone down. But the real disappointment comes from not fulfilling a promise. Think about it: the people you and I respect are usually the people who seem to have clear boundaries, clear vision, and a clear mission. To follow that path we need to know how to say "no."
Remember to make sure when you're saying, "no," that it's done with humility and love . . . but also with the strength that comes from the confidence that saying "no" means saying "yes" to being a better minister.