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How to Say No Graciously

Saying no at the right times frees us to say yes to God's calling.

If anything runs against the grain of Christian leaders, it's saying no. Somehow the call to ministry is interpreted as a surrender of personal choice. The late-date beatitude seems to be "Blessed are those who burn out, for they shall be comforted in heaven." Yet one skill essential to long-range effectiveness is the ability to say no. As Charles Spurgeon said, "Learn to say no; it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin." The freedom to say yes to important concerns comes from the discipline of saying no. Productive ministries flourish when a person determines priorities and says no to anything detracting from them. But here's the rub: How do we say no? How do Christian leaders deal with the deluge of requests and needs they face daily? How do they set their limits? How do they say no graciously, without

offending? To find some answers, I interviewed ten pastors, one seminary president, and two administrative assistants in a variety of denominations. The subject stirred ...

December
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