Yellow no

The Power of “No”

One of the first words my kids learned was “no”. 

How about you?

It was cute for a little bit and then it crossed the line as “no” was used to refuse instruction and leadership. Of course, we led through this but it surprised me how easily “no” was learned and used from a toddler on. With “no” only being two letters, that doesn’t help with the simplicity of pronouncing it.

This reveals the ubiquitous nature we all have and “no” is a big way we communicate it. Even as kids we tend to resist leadership at some level.

However, “no” is complicated in its use. 

Have you noticed the reactions the word “no” gets? This is because we want “yes” all the time and “no” stops what we want. Some adults have a hard time saying “no” and others say it too much. Some over-explain their “no” and others use it in a complete sentence, with nothing to add.

The range of “no” is huge and as leaders, we have to embrace our “no” and use it for the overall effectiveness of our leadership, while being respectful and wise. 

“No” is such a big deal that the Bible speaks to us about how to use it effectively. 

“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”

Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭37‬

“As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.”

2 Corinthians‬ ‭1‬:‭18‬

“But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.”

James‬ ‭5‬:‭12‬

When leaders say “no” they are articulating priorities of what they can’t do, and they’re focused on what they should do. 

“No” is not a bad word, it’s an empowering word!

It frees us to be selective in our focus so we can make our biggest impact. It’s interesting how a “no” can empower us to do more and how a “yes” can cause us to do less. 

Every leader has to navigate this tension because when we say “no” someone is not getting what they’re asking for. When we say “yes” it’s possible we’re not getting what we’re reaching for and thus our leadership suffers.

If we’re going to get things done, we have to say “no”! 

When we say “no”, we do this as a leader and not as an antagonist. That’s being petty and we’re called to be higher. Our “no” is polite, kind, and sincere. It reveals our values, goals, and responsibilities. Therefore, “no” is not personal, it’s professional.

Are you using “no” effectively as a leader? Or are you saying “yes” to being a peacekeeper?

To reach our goals, to discover our ability, and to grow our strengths, we will say “no”!

So, here are three ways to utilize “no”.

1st – Know your goals and your role in achieving them.

When we know our goals and our role, we know what to say “no” to, and what to say “yes” to. I believe that a clear “no” opens us up to a clear, “yes”. “No” clarifies the boundaries and “yes” empowers the path to achieve the goals. 

“No” is a big deal for our going success.

2nd – Why are you saying “no”? 

The why is the reason for our what. Why are you a leader? Why is your company in business? Why is your church doing outreach? Why budget your money? All of these areas and more have a why and when that is clear and repeated, our “no” becomes easier. 

When we don’t know why or if we forget, we’ll say “yes” to things and be led off course by what we should be doing. 

This happens all the time because by nature, the why leaks, passion fades and enthusiasm wears off. So as leaders, we must remind ourselves of the way to lead effectively and clearly. 

The why empowers our “no” which leads us to the right “yes”!

Do you know you’re why as a leader?

I encourage you to be full of your why and be ignited in it! 

3rd – Know what you’re good at and delegate.

What are you good at?

Every leader has strengths and strong abilities. These stand out and they are God-given. These areas are where we thrive and make the most impact. 

Every leader also has weaknesses where they are unskilled or they don’t like doing it. These areas are where we get frustrated and have little impact.

Knowing what we’re good at empowers our “no” to keep us where we thrive and to keep us out of where we get frustrated. 

When we know our strengths, we can delegate our weaknesses to others with that specific skill. This is team building and as leaders, we must do this.

We can’t do it all, which is why we need a team to do it all. 

So often we’re tempted to get pulled into areas that aren’t empowering to us and they’re not profiting those we lead. This is why saying “no” can keep us where we should be and empower others to be where they’re called to be.

So are you saying “no” correctly? Are you saying “yes” incorrectly?

God has plans for you that include the fulfillment of what He’s put in you. You are a leader on purpose and God has a great end in mind for you. To get there, it will take the right “no” so that you can walk through the right, “yes”.

Please begin to make any adjustments in this area, and embrace, saying “no” because it will empower you to succeed.

Have a great day and the best is yet to come,


Pastor David Norris

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