Do you cringe when answering a call from that friend who always seems to need help? Are you avoiding your boss because you know he’s going to ask you to stay late again? It’s complicated, right? You’re worried about saying no and hurting someone’s feelings, or you think you’re the only person who can help. Remember a few things: 1) People will get over it if you say no; 2) You’re not responsible for everyone and everything; and 3) Your purpose is to please God, not people. Check out Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” It’s a difficult lesson to learn because we do want to be kind to our friends and family, but if our end-all purpose is to please people, our priorities are skewed. Here’s what the Bible says about being direct in your answers: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). Wow, right? That’s a difficult one. The point is that we are to decide what we will do ahead of time and keep to that course. Decide where your boundaries are. Maybe you decide you will offer a ride to that neighbor once but tell him he needs to find another ride next time. Perhaps you must tell your relative that you won’t lend any more money. Whatever it is, decide before the situation arises. Next, write down your answer. It can be simply, “No.” But if you’re new to this, I suspect you want to give some explanation. Make it short and sweet, and then write it down and keep it handy. Memorize it. Read from it if you need to, but stick to it. For example, in the case of the money borrower: “I’m sorry, but I can’t lend you the money this time. It’s just not in my budget.” In the case of volunteering: “That’s not going to work for me and my family, but I’m sure someone else will step up to help out.” Make sure the answer comes out as a clear “no,” and stick to the script.
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