When to say NO to good opportunities…

No yesThis weekend, I hosted my team for an annual planning retreat at my house. In addition to the preparation and planning for this leadership retreat and my normal ministry responsibilities, I was in the middle of a bathroom remodel, a master’s thesis, and training for a half marathon…not to mention the normal routine of family life.

Sound over committed? Maybe. But I have a problem – there is nothing I want to give up. I love my life and all the “crazy” that accompany it. How do you say no to things you love to do and want to achieve? How do you know when to say no to good opportunities? How do you decide with even the most purposeful things don’t fit?

Every day we are faced with these questions. For example, Friday morning I had the opportunity to add a coaching appointment to my schedule. Being that my passion is to help others discover their strengths and lead with purpose, this is a hard opportunity to pass up. In addition, several of my team members were coming long distances for the Saturday retreat – a perfect opportunity for me to host them overnight at my house so we could spend more time together. And then – another chance Friday night to connect with a group of leaders over dinner.

Normally, I filter my decision making by asking myself if these opportunities will honor God, people, and the strengths and gifts God has given me. On the surface, all these opportunities look like YES. They seem to honor God by loving others and using my strengths and abilities to do good. But when I examined my decision making closer, overscheduling myself by saying yes would not honor God, the people I love, or the gifts I have been given me to share with others. That is so good, I feel it is worth repeating…

Overscheduling myself, even with the best opportunities does not honor God or others.

If I am distracted by the length of my to-do list instead of focused on the person who is in front of me, how does this honor them or God?

This weekend, when I was faced with great opportunities, I asked myself if I would be able to give each person the undivided attention they deserved if I said yes. The answer was NO.

The leader I could have coached would never see Jesus when I was distracted by the clock because I “squeezed” her into my schedule. My family would not see Jesus by being ignored all weekend. My team would not see Jesus when I was focused on the task of retreat preparation instead of being a gracious hostess.

I want to leave you with two of my favorite quotes from Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

“Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no.” 

“My attitude of love must be fiercely guarded when considering adding activities. My attitude of love must not be sacrificed on the altar of activity….. my attitude of love must trump my activity every time.” 


2 Comments on “When to say NO to good opportunities…”

  1. Love this article, Angela! I have received two invitations to speak in the same month. One a large commitment and the other just one session. I know the first is a yes and have already committed to it. The second I received recently. I availed myself to God and told Him I will go where He sends me. The second event is a great oppritunity as well. Bill even said yes to it. The thing is, I have struggled because it is just before James’ finals. He’s graduating this year. Though I would only be gone for the weekend I can already feel the whole I would leave here if I went. But I told God I would go where He opens the doors. Reading your post this morning helped me see that I wouldn’t be a good speaker for them. My thoughts would be with James and wondering if he is studying like he needs to be and preparing for his graduation. I know it’s just a weekend but I now know I have permission to say to no. Thank you for sharing this! It is right on time for me! Love you!! ❤


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