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The Fear of Saying No

Have you ever felt like your day-to-day responses only consisted of "yes" answers to other's requests? Have you found yourself unable to say "no" when you're feeling overwhelmed and worn out? What reasons do you find are the source of your inability to refrain from taking on too much?

I am one of those people who has a very bad habit of being unable to say "no" to the incessant requests that others throw my way. I often find myself overworked in doing favors for others because I have the fear of letting them down. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy when others reach out to me, since I find great encouragement in being able to help. Although, I admit my weakness when it comes to saying "no." I don't want to put others in a bad situation and disappoint them. In all honesty, I want to be perceived as the person others can count on. I want to be reliable. I admire to being their "go to" person in times of need.

Let me just say that there is a fine line between being reliable and being overworked. I can't count the times that I've put myself into stressful circumstances only to please others. I try to avoid conflict at all costs, so usually the best solution is to just push through it, even if I'm privately grinding my teeth through the process.

Seeking to fulfill other's expectations, we place the pressure on ourselves to fulfill their every desire in fear of looking incapable or imperfect. We don't want to appear flawed, so we do whatever we can to put on the mask of being superhuman and working ourselves to the bone to accomplish what needs to get done.

It is here where it is difficult to distinguish how far is too far in serving others. When do you decide whether it's time to say "no" when you feel so burdened to say "yes?" When I turn down someone's offer, I feel guilt flood over me, thinking that I let them down or appear ungodly for not being willing to help them out. While God admires a servant’s heart, He also desires that we prioritize our lives effectively.

I tend to prioritize how others view me over God's perception of me. Often times I find happiness and contentment in knowing I am helping someone else. While this isn’t wrong, I have found that it so easily transforms into selfish desires in trying to impress others. Even though I may be serving, my heart sometimes gets so caught up in the desire to satisfy the needs of others with selfish intent as my motivation. My happiness has fed off the expectations of others, instead of setting boundaries and focusing on the true purpose of God's intention of helping others. I don’t need to take on more than I can handle to be fully loved and accepted by God.

I can’t count the times I’ve taken on too many things in the fear of letting others down and appearing incapable. I’ve felt like I’ve had to prove my worth by taking on too much. In result, I became worn out, weary and run down, resulting in my time with God being impaired, and probably looking like a total maniac in the process. It was during these times that I felt I didn’t have enough time for God. If I only knew that I needed God the most during those times to get my perspective right. I can't count the times that I prioritized helping others, thinking I was doing the right thing, when in reality, my relationship with God was being so greatly neglected in the process.

We may feel the need to consistently say “yes” when our schedule is screaming at us to say "no." God doesn’t expect us to wear ourselves thin in serving others. Especially when we’ve forgotten why we're serving and we’re only in it to gain praise, fulfillment or personal gain. God desires us to have a servant's heart, but it all stems down to why we're saying "yes." Is it to receive praise, recognition, profit or to people please? Are we only saying "yes" to find fulfillment and look good in front of others? Maybe you even have the right heart intent in saying "yes" but you're finding yourself overwhelmed and stressed out with too many commitments.

Is your relationship with God being impacted due to your many commitments, pulling you away from the one thing that will satisfy your heart? Helping and serving others is something encouraged by God, but He never intended us to over-commit to things that will hinder our relationship with Him. The things we're doing don't influence God's love for us, but rather, He looks deeper into our heart's intent. He values when we take the time to spend with Him and desires that our heart be sincere in our relationship with Him before all else. We don't need to "do" anything to be loved and accepted by God. We don't have to prove ourselves to others to be valued by God. When our heart is right, we will have the desire to genuinely serve and help. When we are faced with opportunities flooding in we can seek God in prayer to ask for direction as to which areas He desires us to say "yes" to and which areas we should say "no" to. 

Take a few moments in prayer and ask God if there are any areas that are pulling your attention away from Him or if He would desire you to say "yes" to. Seek Him for direction and wisdom in prioritizing your commitments and opportunities to be used to strengthen your relationship with Him. God admires a servant's heart who is willing to love and help others, but He never intended you to meet up to everyone's expectations and become overwhelmed by too many commitments.

The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected. // Proverbs 29:25

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. // Galatians 1:10


  1. Great post and good thoughts! :D

  2. Love your blog. Lot of people need to read this. It's never easy to say No especially when they are really close to you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.