“Do you mind gathering some women to prepare and serve food for our upcoming event?”
“Since we’re planning this mission trip, could you take care of all the women’s ministry needs we’ll have?”
“I know it’s last minute, but can you come to our group tonight and help answer some questions our Bible study group has?”
Sometimes requests like these might not seem like big impositions. Perhaps you decided long ago that because you coordinate women’s ministries, you’ll do a few things you’d rather not do. But is that the way it always has to be? Don’t you deserve some personal and professional boundaries? Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to saying yes or no.
Don’t say yes if it allows others to avoid their responsibilities. That’s called enabling. When someone doesn’t plan properly, you might bail her out once, but gently encourage her to plan better next time.
Do decide ahead of time that you won’t make snap decisions. Because you’re a leader, people might expect you to have quick and easy answers—or you might expect yourself to answer easily and quickly. It’s okay to take your time. Say, “Let me look at my schedule and get back to you in an hour.”
Do delay decisions until you can pray and think through the consequences of saying yes.
Do list pros and cons of saying yes or no. If you take a little time, you can go through the process of making a good decision.
Don’t forget to think about how adding another commitment will make you feel. Women’s ministry leaders tend to validate everyone else’s feelings but often suppress their own.
Don’t be afraid to say no. Leaders can say no. If necessary, make that a motto and repeat it to yourself. “Leaders can say no. Leaders can say no.”
Do be tactful with your responses. Even though leaders can say no, they don’t have to be rude. Take time to explain your answers. For example, sometimes saying no allows you to say yes to a commitment that benefits a greater number of people in the church or significantly increases your congregation’s outreach.
Don’t leave the door open for future pressure if you know you’ll eventually say no. Many people put off answering no by saying, “I’m still thinking about it” or “Maybe I could do that later.” If you know the end answer will be no, be clear with your answer as soon as possible.