Leadership DevelopmentThe Campus Minister

The Power and Peace of “No”


How often to you use this word? Do you feel the freedom to use it — to tell people no, to turn down a request?

My guess is the answer to that question is “no.” Or at least, not very often.

We feel called by God — to serve others. To be available. To make a difference.

“No,” just feels so unhelpful — even unChristian.

But is it?

I’m convinced that the secret to having more power in our leadership, while at the same time experiencing more peace in our lives, is found in this simple word — “no.”

The Power of “No”

The true power of “no” is not in what it keeps us from doing, but in what it allows us to do — in how it allows our “yes” to really be yes!

More often than not, our “yes” doesn’t pack much of a punch — because we spread it around so generously that it doesn’t really mean anything. We over-commit and over-extend ourselves to the point that we don’t have much energy or effort to give to any of it.

But when we say “no” to some things, in order to say “yes” to a few key things, we give power to those few key things.

And that’s not all…

The Peace of “No”

Too often when we feel like life is spinning out of control, we can point to an overwhelmed and overloaded schedule. Our inability (or unwillingness) to say “no” can eventually lead us to a place of personal chaos, when we are called to be children of peace.

But when we say “no” — when we no longer feel compelled to lead everything, or please everyone, we might be surprised by what we find.


A less hurried schedule and pace of life.

The capacity to be present — fully present — when we’re with others.

A peaceful presence in our leadership.

But wait, there’s more…

The Permission of “No”

Here’s the bonus: when we experience the power of “no” — and the peace of “no” — something very special happens… We become the kind of leader that God has created us to be. The kind of leader that we want to be. And the kind of leader that others want to follow.

And when we’re that kind of leader, people not only follow, but they find themselves wanting what they see in us. They want the power (impact, not control). They want the peace.

And it gives them permission to say “no” as well.

That’s right. It has a ripple effect.

Our willingness to say “no” empowers others to say “no.” It provides for them a model of healthy boundaries, a more peaceful way of life, and a more powerful witness through the work we do commit ourselves to. And who doesn’t want all of that?!


“No” can be a challenging word to become comfortable with — but trust me when I say that it has the power to change your life (and ministry) forever!

QUESTION: What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to telling people “no?”