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How to Say No To Good People

Learning to say no is a real challenge for a lot of good people. Learning to say no to good people and good things is even more of a challenge. But if we’re going to walk in the fullness of God's purpose for our lives and families, no has to become a regular part of vocabulary.


In college I had to read the best-selling book by Jim Collins titled Good to Great. In his book, Collins explores the idea that good is the enemy of great. This was the very first time I learned the power of my “yes”.

In reading the book, it dawned on me that the greatest enemy to excellence or greatness was mediocrity. That if my time and energy were taken up by every “good” thing, I would never have the energy or capacity for any truly great opportunity that came my way.

This was liberating and conflicting at the same time. Mainly because as a believer I felt like there was something wrong with saying no to good people or good things, especially if it’s for “the Gospel” or “the Church”. It was as if I would be turning my back on Jesus himself.

It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that embracing God’s plan for my life meant learning to deny other people’s plan for me. Everyone will almost always have an opinion on your life and decisions, that’s a given. You must learn to prioritize your life or step aside while other people prioritize it for you.


Here are a few principles that help me to actively filter how I use the power of no and preserve the significance of my yes.

  1. Know Your Inner Compass - Having a clear vision of where God has called me makes it easy to see what will derail me from that. Like Niemiah while building the wall when he declared, “I’m doing a great work and I cannot come down.” I refuse to be derailed unless God himself changes the direction.

  2. Always Count The Cost - I learned over the years that every yes is an automatic no to something else. To accept a coffee meeting with one person is to close off my calendar to any other opportunity during that time. Know what you’re saying no to before issuing your yeses too easily.

  3. Never Undervalue Your Time - This may sound a bit dramatic but every second shared with anyone or on anything is an investment for life. It’s time that’s never coming back and can never be earned. Where you choose to invest your time is quite possibly one of most significant decisions you make daily, never let anyone undermine that.

I took the time to design VIDA map in part for these three reasons. I needed (and wanted) one place where I could see and manage these significant items.

You must learn to prioritize your life or step aside while other people prioritize it for you.

QUESTION: What is currently your biggest time waster that you are aware of?

This is a hard thing to overcome for many, and the truth is we all have them. They’re important for leisure but deadly for our dreams when they get out of control. Comment below or email me to let me know what you think is your biggest time waster and what you do to keep it tamed.

You can also subscribe to my newsletter for bonus tips and resources on self-leadership and work-life balance or follow my podcast - The Pocket Potential.

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