Saying No

YorkieThe most important word my dog knows is, “No”.

“No”, has kept her out of trouble many times (when she listens)!  Whether it’s been used to stop her from chasing after another dog who might not be as friendly as she is, to keep her from pooping in our neighbor’s yard, or jaunting out into a busy street. “No”, has literally saved her life.

“The most simple adjustment we can make to create room for a spontaneous, missional life is to cut out the things we don’t need to do. It’s so easy to get caught in patterns of saying “yes” to everything. Then, when God wants to use us, we’re too busy or too exhausted to respond.” – TK Primer

We’re kinda the opposite of that, aren’t we?  “NO” is not a common word in our vocabulary for many of us on God’s journey.  And because it’s not, we suffer the consequence at times.

We talk a lot about the need to build “margin” into our lives to be intentional about being an authentic Christian community, and to be a missional and incarnational community.  Authentic community doesn’t occur without making space for it.  Incarnational/missional communities have to be intentional by creating space in their lives and missions.

It’s not that popular in Western culture anymore to make room for other people.  I’m not talking about on Facebook, Twitter, email, or Instagram.  I’m talking about real-world, face-to-face time with a small group of Christians.  To do this would mean evaluating how you currently spend your time.

If we are honest, most of us will see that we are too busy for meaningful community.  We must learn to reprioritize and slow our pace, as nothing can be loved living life at warp speed.

“No” might be the most important word to creating authentic Christian community.  The key, however, is saying no to the right things.  And listening for the right voice.

When my son tells our dog “No”, she rarely responds. It’s as if she doesn’t hear him.  If she does, she waffles.   When I do it, she stops on a dime. There’s a lesson to be learned here… there’s a belief, a priority, a motive, and an authority that speaks into our “No’s”.  Are we listening for where God is telling us to say no? Or are we listening for when our tradition, our guilt, our insecurities, or our selfishness tell us to say no? There’s a big difference.

I don’t have it all figured out.  And to be honest, I wrestle with saying “no” to some favorite activities.  It’s hard because I know that saying “no” means giving some things up.  But, if I want to be part of an authentic Christian community…one that makes time for growing together in God, building life-long friendships, and serving our Orlando community together, then saying no is a choice I need to make.

Michael Woods

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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