We assume that God’s people will always say “Yes” when we ask them to do something. When a congregation is smaller there is an unwritten rule that you have to say “Yes” to every request because ‘everybody is suppose to pitch in,’ and there aren’t many other folks to ask.
When it comes to larger churches, it is more likely to have someone say “No” to a request. Sometimes, this doesn’t sit well with us. So what do we say or do when we get a negative response to our requests?
- Realize people can say “No” just like you can say “No.” I think it is interesting that we say “No” to others and yet when it comes to our brethren, we always expect them to say “Yes.” When they don’t, we get upset. We forget that they have as much right (and reason) to say “No” as we do when we say it.
- Realize that neither you nor your ministry are being rejected. When a person says “No” to our request it does not automatically mean that the person rejects us personally or our ministry. He/she may say “No” because of time (or other) restraints, lack of giftedness or passion for the item of request or for some other personal reason—even disinterest or laziness. Don’t take any negative response as a personal rejection.
- Accept the fact that some folks have boundaries. Most Americans (including members of the church) have no boundaries in their lives. A boundary is something that assists you in saying “Yes” to the things you should “Yes” to and “No” to the things you need to say “No” to. When you don’t have boundaries you get over committed financially and time wise.
Some Christians (as Jesus did) actually have boundaries (cf.Eph.5:15) and they have learned to say “No” when they need to say “No.” We need to respect such boundaries
- Think of other possibilities. Is the person you asked the only person who can do what you request? In some very rare cases, it may be so. However, in most cases, there are several people that can be contacted. Yes, it is difficult to approach someone you don’t know. However, you need to try this approach to finding new help.
- Graciously accept their response. When people said “No” to Jesus (and they did), He didn’t argue, throw a fit, threaten them or get mad. In fact, in one case, it grieved Him. He accepted the negative answers of those whom He loved and had invited to follow Him. I’m sure it broke His heart, but He still accepted their refusal to follow. The best we can do is accept the answer. However, we may want to ask, “May I ask you again in the future?”
- Negotiate. Sometimes we need to find out why the person said “No.” Sometimes we ask him/her to do too much. Could you break the project down and delegate the different parts to different people? When negotiating, ask a person to do part of a project instead of the whole project. Ask them what part they would like. Give options and choices. Folks are more willing to do things if they have options and choices.