By nature, church leaders are people pleasers. This is part of what helps build a happy church family.
However, both church leaders and members have to say no sometimes. The only problem is you don’t want to anyone’s feelings or turn anyone away.
Learning how to say no nicely makes it a little easier. You still say no, but there’s less chance of anyone getting hurt or upset.
Why You Have To Say No
God wants Christians to help others, but at no point did He want you to give until you make yourself sick. And yes, that’s exactly what happens if you never say no. Church leaders that try to handle every single request of every member or volunteers who constantly get backed into heading up every major project all need to stop and learn to say no nicely.
Taking on too much leaves zero time for you to work on yourself or your relationship with God. You need downtime. You need time to work on your own passion projects. While you don’t have to say no to everything, picking and choosing reduces stress, makes you happier and actually lets you help those you choose to say yes to more effectively since you’re not rushing off to help someone else.
Provide A Legitimate Reason
Pastor Al Jennings of Fort Wayne, IN said you should remember that for every yes, you’re saying no to something else. He suggests thinking about what you’d have to give up in order to say yes. This provides you with a legitimate reason to say no. It always sounds nicer when you’re able to provide the other person with a clear reason why you can’t say yes to what they asked.
Remember, something that may seem selfish is a legitimate reason. For instance, if it’s been a particularly stressful time, saying no to heading up a committee in the community for the weekend to go on a family trip is a great reason.
Offer Advice Instead
Sometimes it’s not that a person actually needs much of your time. They might think they do, but the truth is, all they need is a little guidance. For instance, when someone asks you to do something for them, say no nicely and offer some advice instead. Not only is this a way to help without giving up more than a few minutes, it’s also a way to teach others.
Keep It Positive
By itself, no is a negative word. That’s one of the reasons why so many people, including your church family, have trouble saying it. The church is supposed to be a positive environment, so saying no must mean you’re being negative. This isn’t true. Of course, if you just say no to everything without a second thought, you might be walking through negative’s door.
Put a positive spin on the word no. For instance, take a look at Goodnet’s list of ways to turn negative phrases and words into positive ones. If someone asks you to help them, start by telling them “thank you so much for asking me.” Then follow up with “I’m sorry, but I already promised to do XYZ.” Keep it even more positive by suggesting someone else who may have the time to help. You say no nicely and everyone’s happy.
Give Yourself Time
A blunt no always comes off sounding harsh no matter what your intentions may be. If you can’t come up with a reason or nice way to say it, tell the person you need to check your schedule first. This is especially helpful if someone catches you off guard.
For example, a church member wants you to drive out of town to visit a sick relative, your mind is immediately filled with concern versus thinking of a reason to say no. Tell them you need to check your schedule first to see if you’re available. This gives you time to think about whether you should or shouldn’t do it. If you don’t have the time, ask if someone else is available or offer to pray with them over the phone.
Say No Another Way
Many people just aren’t good with confrontation. It’s how your church probably ends up with so many volunteers that tend to fade out. When asked point blank to volunteer, they’d rather say yes than say no and deal with anyone asking questions. Over time, they just gradually stop volunteering or even coming to church.
It’s easy to say no nicely when you don’t have to do it face to face. Ask for time to check your schedule and then send an email or text to say no with a reason why. You could even call if you’re comfortable with that.
It’s okay to say no. Consider using social media and your church website to help members communicate with each other to say no or find other members to help.