February 7, 2022

7 Reasons You Can’t Have the Faith You Want and What To Do About It – Part 7 

by Toby Lofton in Discipleship0 Comments

Just Say No! 

No is not a complex word. No is quite simple. One syllable. Easy to pronounce. In fact, no is such an easy word it is one of the first words we learn to say. No is one of the first words we learn to understand before we can formulate it with speech.  

Unfortunately, as we become adults, no seems to be one of the most difficult words for us to use. 

This is the final part to this series on reasons you can’t have the faith you want and what to do about it. If you haven’t guessed it yet, the seventh reason you can’t have the faith you want is because you don’t know how to say no. 

If your life is lived like a hamster on a running wheel and you just do find enough time to breathe, or perhaps feel like you can never catch your breath, then chances are you have forgotten how to say no. 

In my pastoral leadership, I often witness people who are running 90 miles an hour and never stop. They often talk about how busy they are and how they have no time for themselves. They say things like, “If anyone else asks them to do something, I am going to lose it.” 

Truth be told, they don’t really need to say anything. Anyone with an eye of observation only has to watch and it is easily discernible the person is running on fumes. Work. Kids. Activities. Civic clubs. Parents. Siblings. Friends. Community events. Church. Personal fun. Go here. Go there. Running late. Shows up late. Forgets this. Forgets that. Twenty phone calls. Fifty texts. Little sleep. No rest. Doesn’t eat right. Doesn’t take care of themselves. Lots of coffee. You get the idea, and you know if this describes you. 

Make no mistake. Life happens at times at does require some pretty busy days here and there, are for a short season. We are not speaking of such times. We are speaking of every day, every week, every month, and every year. This is your life. 

The problem is when you talk with such a person about their faith, they let out a deep sigh, exclaiming, “I just don’t have the time.” 

The problem of not saying no is different from the two previous problems we discussed. Problem 5 and 6 was about having too grandiose ideas about faith and wanting to have it all (everything in life). Problem 7, saying no, has nothing to do with biting off more than you can chew in faith nor does it have to do with wanting everything in life. Often a person who can’t say no never considers about spiritual growth nor do they really in truly want anything that is on their plate. They would love to be able to take ten minutes of their day to read a simple devotion. They dream of having an afternoon with absolutely nothing to do. Heck, an afternoon? They would take an hour! Give them 30 minutes, or a fifteen-minute nap.  

So why can’t they have that? They don’t know how to say no. 

Listen, most people I know love to help out. They love to do things for other people. They see the importance of community organizations and events. They also want to excel in their jobs, see the kids succeed, and love their church. 

At some point however, if you are not taking time to feed your faith, and self, you cannot expect to have the faith you want. At some point, you have to say no. Saying no is the solution to the problem. 

There is another reason to say no that many people don’t consider. A pastoral story paints a great picture.  

I had such a lady in my church who fit our description above. In fact, she was so busy that she would confide in me occasionally, especially when she was at her wits end. I would attempt to counsel her to learn to say to no. Let’s call her Martha. 

Our church was considering a new ministry that required someone to do some tasks to get the program set up. Martha wasn’t in the meeting because she was off putting out a fire somewhere else. Who do you think the church council immediately suggested run lead on the project? You got it, Martha. The council’s rationale was that Martha was always busy and looking to do something for someone. They viewed Martha’s busy-ness as just what she did. It never occurred to them that Martha really didn’t want to be so busy but just didn’t know how to say no. There is no doubt that had I let the council ask her, Martha would have said yes.  

It is important to learn to say no. Saying no set boundaries for yourself and for others. You need to set parameters that will allow you to grow in your faith. You also need to set parameters that tell others that you just aren’t going to do everything you are asked to do. 

Sometimes it is not about whether what you are being asked to do is beneficial, helpful, or even important. One thing is certain however, everything must be about your relationship with God. 

Remember, even Jesus took time away for himself. He stole away to the mountain even when there were many people eager to learn from him, to be healed, and wanting to experience wholeness. Jesus said no.  


Toby Lofton

Pastor, Teacher, Author.

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