Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Jesus said, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and you 'No' be 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." Jesus encouraged an honest life that has eluded many Christian leaders. I find many leaders are frustrated, saying "Yes" when they mean "No," then resenting others for it. The anger stems from a lack of honesty with themselves, first of all, then with others.

It is dangerous to your health to be a "yes man." Jesus gave us permission to say both yes and no. I know this is hard for some Christians to believe, but sometimes the best answer is "No." We have a limited amount of emotions, time, money and strength. When someone asks you to engage, and you don't have the emotional strength to do so, the answer needs to be "No." When someone asks you to participate, but you don't have the time, the answer needs to be "No." When someone asks you to contribute, but you don't have the money, the answer needs to be "No." When someone asks you to help, but you don't have the strength, the answer needs to be "No." And Jesus says you don't have to explain or excuse yourself either. Just say "No, I'm sorry, I can't." Let your "No" be "No."

If you really want to frustrate the rest of us, keep saying "Yes" when you should be saying "No." After awhile it will become clear that you don't really have the ability (emotions, time, money, strength) to follow through on your commitments (ummm....overcommitments) and we will start wishing that you had just been honest with us to begin with: "If you didn't have the time, I wish you just would have told me." Other people cannot read your mind, so when you say "Yes" they actually assume you mean "Yes," with all that attends that word.

I was once doing marriage counseling with a couple, and finding it very difficult to make any progress, until one session the wife turned to her husband and blurted out, "I don't love you. I haven't loved you for a long time." It was a difficult session, but in some ways it was a turning point. The husband, afterward, told me, "It was hard to hear that, but I needed to hear that." Up until her statement neither of us could figure out why the pieces were not coming together. She had said that she loved him, so we both took her word for it. The minute she got honest, the marriage had a chance at survival. Prior to that statement, we weren't even working on helping her to love him, because that had been assumed. Once we knew that she did not love him, we could go to work on that. And we did. And she did. And eventually that marriage came back together. But it required honesty to get there.

If we as leaders don't show a degree of care with our "Yes" and "No" we can unwittingly show our people how to become really good at being dishonest, and subsequently, unhealthy. After all, we are as sick as our secrets.