The Power of “No”

The Power of “No”


I don’t like “No.”  Maybe this is your first response too.  Whether it is coming from the lips of the precious toddler in your life who has just learned a powerful new word, or from your “boss,” or even your spouse, “NO!” isn’t a word we are likely to want to hear.  Before we just banish this terrible little word, maybe we should pause to consider what life would be like without it…


While it may be a positive and pleasing word to hear, saying “yes” could lead us to some negative places.  Without “no,” yes would lose all its power.  More than anything goes, our lives would turn into EVERYthing goes.  Life would lose all boundaries.  Chaos would ensue and our misery would not simply increase, but increase exponentially.  I am reminded of the borderline profane comedy “Bruce Almighty” where “Bruce” was faced with hearing everyone’s prayers.  His answer was simple and well intentioned…just say “yes” to everyone.  While his intent was to please everyone, the result was no one was truly satisfied.

While giving the greatest message ever, Jesus talked about our “Yes” and our “No.”  It was the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:37 where Jesus literally said “let your yes be yes and your no be no.”  It was part of a larger injunction on swearing .  His words have great power for us today.  How much more simple and enjoyable would our lives be with strong “yes” and equally strong “no?”  Boundaries would be clear and crisp.  I think we all would be happier, even if it means hearing “no” from people we love…especially if it clears the way to a much deeper and more powerful “yes” for important and valuable things.

Where are you saying “yes?”  Where are you saying “no?”  Where might you need to say “no” more and with greater force?  Some years ago, Asbury Church went through a period of strategic planning.  The result is that we began saying “no” more often.  This wasn’t popular.  It still isn’t popular.  However, it is vital and necessary.  If we said “yes” to everything that came our way, we would be spread thin and our impact would be minimal at best.  With the power of a strategic “no,” our path is paved for a far more powerful and meaningful “yes” to other things.  This is our way of honoring God.  It is not easy to say “no” to good things, especially when they come from people we know and love.  The result is a tremendous impact at Lynn Road Elementary School, Rise Against Hunger and Sous Raille Haiti.  As we are faithful in these areas, our impact expands and others are free to say “yes” to the areas they are called.  If everyone is faithful, all of God’s work will get done.

Sometimes “no” is a matter of faithfulness.  Where is God calling you to be faithful by drawing clear boundaries?  Where is your strategic and prayerfully discerned “no?”  “No” is a powerful word and should be used carefully, prayerfully and judiciously…but it should be used.  Need help discerning where your “no” should be?  Send me a text or email or give me a call.  I would be delighted to set up a time when I can say “yes” to helping you say “no!”

Peace & Partnership,

Tom Newman