Saying “No,” to Say, “YES!”

Boundaries are incredibly important to promoting successful–and more importantly healthy—organizations and leaders.  This notion of boundaries is also true about promoting a healthy self.  Perhaps counter-intuitively, working or running an organization that promotes a “yes” culture is detrimental to health and a high-functioning organization.  When we say “yes” to everything—or feel the pressure to say “yes”—we fill our schedules and energy with things that are often far from being life-giving.  Jesus had a clear understanding of what He wanted to accomplish and quite literally said, “no” to his disciples.

There is a set of verses in Mark 1:35-28, where Jesus’ disciples wanted him to return to Capernaum after a full day of healing had already taken place and Jesus said, “no” to say “yes” to another opportunity of preaching elsewhere.

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you!” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”  (Mark 1:35-38)

Here we see Peter making an exasperated statement that people back in Capernaum had been waiting for him to do more healing.  Jesus, knowing the future of His mission said “no” to create an opportunity of “yes.” This choice of an answer kept in line with the mission of Jesus and His goal of leaving healthy and practical examples of ministry for his disciples.  Furthermore, we must be reminded of Jesus’ full humanity and the need for rest.  We often forget that Jesus came to Earth fully human, and yet fully God.  Jesus needed rest and fulfillment the same way we need rest and fulfillment.

If you want to promote happiness, high productivity, and health—you must create a culture (both organizationally and personally) that says “yes” to the right things, and “no” to things that are off mission.  Here are a few quick ways I’ve learned to say “yes” to the right things in my life.


  1. Know your mission.

It’s impossible to know if something is a good use of your time if you don’t have a mission statement or a job description inside of an organization.  I have found that having a personal mission statement creates space for me to filter things I’m asked to do through a clear understanding of purpose.  My mission statement is really short and easy and can be read on the main page of my blog, here.


  1. Schedule

Being healthy means having an awareness of your schedule and how much time you’re giving to others’–instead of giving to yourself.   Don’t fall into the trap of feeling as though you have to constantly fill your schedule.  Make sure you’re carving out space for rest so that when you do say “yes” to something, you’re fully present and energized.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done things that I wanted to say “yes” to but because my schedule was so filled, I was too exhausted to enjoy it.


  1. Know what gives you life.

I can quickly rattle off the things that I find to be life-giving and the things (sometimes people) that are life draining; I can also quickly tell you the things that I experience the most joy from.  Make sure you’re limiting the encounters with life draining occurrences and emphasize time spent with people and things that fill your heart, mind, and soul.  It is okay that not all people or things energize you, some people are difficult to be around and our personalities often clash—that doesn’t make you a bad leader, a poor employee, or a terrible Christian.


All three of the things listed come from healthy self-awareness.  Make sure you’re spending time defining what makes you distinctly you and celebrate it.  Let me know some of your tips and ways to say “no” in order to say “yes” to the right things.

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