When the Answer is No

No is one of my least favorite words. While I do not enjoy its implications, I realize that it is sometimes necessary to say. There are times that life simply does not allow another project to be added to my plate. I also accept that the word “no” is powerful and is the right of every individual to chose what they will be involved in.

Anyone working in ministry of any type must learn how to respond when the answer is “no.” As a new season of work begins for me, I have been fortunate to hear quite a few positive answers. I have also been told no. How I respond to the negative and the positive will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of my ministry and my relations with those I serve. Here are a few points that I am trying to remember as I hear “no's” this season.

It's not personal. When people say that are unable to assist or participate, it's not something that should be taken personally. In many ways, it should be seen as a sign of respect. They are not committing to doing something now that they may have to recant later.

It's not permanent. All answers will not be “no” from this individual from now until the end of eternity. When circumstances change, the individual will more than likely be excited to participate. However, I must admit that when I hear “no” consistently from an individual, I am less likely to ask them to join in on a project until they tell me they want to be involved.

It's not something I can change. Even if I see how this project can be beneficial in so many ways to their personal development, no amount of comment on my part is going to change their response. Rather than focusing on the negative answer, I must learn to focus on those who have responded positively and move forward.

It's not a reflection on my effectiveness in ministry. I have struggled with this one over the years. It becomes very easy to listen to the deceitful voices that tell me I have missed God's direction if others are not willing to follow my leadership and that my ministry is ineffective. When projects REPEATEDLY result in failure, it is a good idea to evaluate the mission statement of your ministry and how it aligns with that of the local congregation. Nevertheless, everyone will face challenges where plans will fall through. If they didn't, we wouldn't be human and would have no need for divine direction. When projects fail, take the time to reflect and learn a lesson, but don't throw in the towel! Your ministry's effectiveness is not determined by man and will not be judged by the Heavenly Father based on a single success or failure.

As you begin a new season of ministry, determine that you are going to focus on the positive and walk in confidence of what God is leading you to do. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by negative responses to your requests for help. The One who planted the vision within your heart will also be the One who will bring it to pass in His perfect time for the development of His kingdom.

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