How To Say No And Still Be Nice

Ok fine. I tricked you a little bit. You can’t always be nice when you say no, but bear with me, I’ll make a good case for doing it anyway:

I have reaped the bitter, tearful consequences of saying yes to everything. Part of growing up is learning your limits, working within them, and capitalizing on your strengths instead of spending yourself thin and attempting to be good at everything.

At 29, I’m still growing up. 

Recently, I said yes to something I should have said no to. Concerned with making sure I came off as “nice” I thoughtlessly agreed. It is no surprise to me that I left feeling used, sapped of energy, and even a little mad.

Consider Your Calling

The problem with saying yes to everything is, before long, you will burnout. Many times those in ministry (pick me) believe that they are called to serve everyone, when really they are called to a specific group of people to use a specific set of gifts. Saying yes to the wrong things distracts us from our true purpose, wastes precious energy, and even leads to bitterness.

However, to be fair, I ask you to consider the fickleness of our own hearts and lay the matter at the feet of Jesus in prayer.



Jesus, the greatest example of someone who worked hard and served well, didn’t burn out. Why? Jesus knew how to say no. Jesus didn’t skimp on self sacrifice–setting a radical president of generosity–but He was also keenly aware of His limits and calling.

Many examples of Jesus saying no are sprinkled throughout scripture: Jesus said no to His family in order to continue ministering (Matthew 12:46-50), said no when Herod mocked Him and asked for a miracle (Luke 23:8-9), turned the rich young ruler away because his heart wasn’t ready (Matthew 19:16-21), and even practiced and encouraged proper self-care and solitude (Matthew 6:6). 

You Can’t Always Be Nice

Being nice doesn’t cut it, but being loving does. Sometimes following the directives above–considering your calling and looking to Christ’s example–means saying no. Sometimes “no” is the most loving thing to say. Some may not understand this, and might even think you’re mean, snobby, or rude, but remember being nice isn’t the final goal.

Saying no, in obedience to God’s call on our lives will leave us and other’s fulfilled. I’m not saying that everything will be easy and you will never again have to sacrifice anything, but you will be able to serve God to your fullest potential.

Doesn’t that make you want to say no a little more often?

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1 Comment

  • Reply Anita murray January 29, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I hear you saying, “the truth will set you free”. Sometimes the truth is “yes”, and sometimes it is “no”.

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