Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTUDENT MINISTRY: The Need to Say “No”

STUDENT MINISTRY: The Need to Say “No”

      For those of us in ministry, “no” can be a hard word to say. We want to help and feel that it is our sacred responsibility to be there for the people God has entrusted to us. On top of that, many of us are people pleasers. The problem with that mentality is that we can end up in a place where we have spent all our energy on things that are not at the top of our list. In addition, many of us are motivated “doers” who like to be involved and easily give ourselves over to lots of projects. As you can see, it can be a problem.

      If our tendency is to say “yes” to ever person and request that comes our way, how do we navigate this issue? The truth is that the nature of our ministry vocation is to say “yes” to people and our lead pastor. I am suggesting that there are times when we need to say “no” because of our need to protect some things.

         • I will say “no” to protect my family. There are times that we have to say “no” to the requests that come our way so we can be there for the people in our own household. The pastoral requirements outlined in Scripture indicate that we are to “rule our household well.” To do this requires time and focus. So, what does this look like?

      My son and daughter were in high school band at Har-Ber High of Springdale. I let my parents and students know I was going to be at those games. I would still go and be at some of the games at the other schools represented in our ministry, but I would not sacrifice this opportunity to invest in my children.

      There are also times when I have had to say “yes” to my wife and her needs. In September 2022, I had to miss a trip with our church worship team to the Sing Conference because of a need to be at a memorial for my sister-in-law. That may seem like a no-brainer, but there was still that internal struggle of “That’s my job. I need to go to the conference.” A well-timed “no” can be that thing that protects your family.

         • I will say “no” to protect the length of my ministry. If I am always saying “yes,” there is a possibility that I will burn myself out before I get to the end. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. That means we can’t get caught up in racing others. I know that when I was running marathons, it was easy to see the speed that some would take off at and feel like I need to be running faster. Occasionally, I would jump out of the gate and go too fast, and I would feel it down the road. We will sometimes have to say “no” so we can make it to the end.

         • I will say “no” to protect my own well-being. One of my favorite sayings is “Even Jesus got away to pray and rest. Be like Jesus. Take naps.” Do I rest enough? No. Do I say “no” enough myself? No. This is an area that I need to embrace more. If we want to be of greater value to the people and ministry where God has placed us, we need to be willing to say “No” to the good, so we can accomplish the best. Rarely is a choice between a good and a bad thing. It is usually a decision between two good things.

      Saying “no” is a hard thing for this guy to do. I know the same holds true for many in ministry. So, let me shift here. If you are a layperson and not in vocational ministry, let me encourage you to do some things yourself:

         • Understand that the ministers and pastors in your church want to serve you. That is one of the reasons they are in ministry.

         • When you hear a “no,” understand that they are human and only have so much to give of themselves.

         • Reduce your expectations. Your expectations for those in full or part-time ministry may be too great. God has called us all to minister to one another. Those in leadership need to focus in on prayer and the ministry of the Word. There is still time for other things, but prayer, teaching and equipping are at the top of their list.

      A well-timed “no” is important piece in a long ministry. Student ministry workers and pastors, are you willing to say it? Church members, are you willing to hear it?