A recent article on thriveglobal.com caught my attention. Sociologist Christine Carter offers three steps to saying “no.” It is a word that pastors and other care-giving types find hard to say. However, learning to say “no” is essential to healthy leadership and pastoring.
Several years ago, I taught a workshop at a national conference titled, Saying No Without Feeling Guilty. I adapted strategies from William Ury’s Power of a Positive No to the experiences of church workers. The workshop was a response to stories I often heard from pastors, educators and other church folk about their struggles with setting boundaries and taking care of themselves.
Today, I work with coaching clients on these same issues. Pastors are people-pleasers and they want parishioners to like them. Too often this translates into over-functioning and taking on responsibilities that belong to others. Sometimes pastors say yes to doing things simply to get them done because they don’t want to ask someone else to do it or they don’t trust that it will get done (the way they want). Unfortunately, this leads to an disempowered laity and a frustrated and exhausted pastor.
When you have clarity about your values, responsibilities and personal goals – what Ury calls your YES – you can make better decisions about your responses to requests. Here are a few coaching questions that can help you learn to say no:
- What are the values that guide you in deciding to what you will say “yes?”
- How do you discern what are your responsibilities and what belongs to someone else?
- What is your YES, and how does it influence your decision-making?
- What is the worst that can happen if you say “no” to things that do not belong to you?
My goal as a coach is to help pastors be the best they can be personally and professionally. Contact me if I can help you set goals for yourself that will lead to health, happiness and a successful ministry.