The Fear of Saying “No”

About a year ago I received an invitation to do something new and scary that would be an adventure. Teaching pastors in rural Africa.  Stretching.  Hard.  Solo.

I had been asking God for invitations, so my first thought was “I need to say ‘yes’.  Jesus followers always say “yes” to invitations to serve those in need, right?

But several details about this ask caused me to pause and ask for time to pray about  it before answering.

I prayed honestly and intensely about this offer for over six months.  I felt torn.  There were specific reasons God brought to mind that led me to believe I should say “no”, but along the way I kept asking, “If I say ‘no’ is it You, or is it really because I’m afraid of taking this risk?”

And “Isn’t God’s will always the hardest thing?”

It was difficult to send the final email saying “Thank you, but no”.

I was afraid of letting down people who needed help.

I was afraid of letting God down.

I was afraid of making a decision that would close all future doors.

If I turned this down maybe I’d discover how dispensable I really am.

As counter as it was to my initial reaction, and as hard as it was, I felt led to say “no” for now.

And then, last night, as I walked into our quiet house alone, out of “nowhere” as clear as everything real, God whispered, “You don’t need to go to Kitale.  I love you.  Period.”

You don’t need to be afraid.

What scares you most about saying “no”?


6 thoughts on “The Fear of Saying “No”

  1. Wow. Just ask Maggie – I’m terrible at saying no, and when I do, I feel like I’m letting everyone down, or that I have to have a great reason, when sometimes the only reason I have is that I need to rest. (And that feels selfish!) Good to hear this.


    • You’re not alone! And somehow, deep down I think this taps into our addictions to perform for affirmation and the need to be needed. God’s grace and love are hard to rest in apart from what we do.


  2. Oh! Can I relate…….

    Your words on cause are spot on. I always recall a very wise woman who spoke at Mom’s Morning all those years ago, who said; “Careful ladies, remember….if the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy! And so exhausted and stressed that you lose all focus of God and the purposes HE set forth for you”! Wise words. Good words from you. Good reminder always!


  3. Definitely is so hard sometimes to say “NO” to so many things. Invitations come and go, delegated tasks, etc.. There is a Christian prejudice against the “NO”. It’s like denying the faith, or at least in Latin America is meant that way. Unable to connect to a server with the word “NO”, however, as Pastor’ve learned to say “NO” to so many things that what they wanted was to delay my call and certainly the work that Jesus has given me. I can not say it is an easy task, but definitely should be exercised in this of having to say “no” to many things, for the sake of the family, the ministry and of oneself.

    Greetings in Jesus.


    • Yes, I get that, especially in the pastorate. I’m thankful for the Body of Christ – people with many different gifts that I don’t have. When I say “yes” to everything I deprive others of the joy of ministry too.


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