Don't Say "Yes" When You Mean "No"

Allyson Golden

by Allyson Golden

Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.



It was Spring 2019, and I was busy. Not only was I a full-time pediatric nurse, but I was also running the children’s ministry at my church, planning my wedding, and trying to attend everything I was invited to because I was young and confused about the status of my friendships. I felt I had to do it all or I was going to miss out—as if saying “no” to something would mean I was a failure. But I was exhausted, confused, and my relationship with the Lord wasn’t a priority.

I had become the “Yes Girl.” Everyone knew they could come to me for any request, and my answer would be “Of course!”

Does this sound like a season you are in or have been in before?

Fighting FOMO

Culture is screaming at us to say “yes” to everything. We’re conditioned to always say “yes” to friends so as not to be left out, to never pass up an opportunity, and to constantly work ourselves until we are burnt out. It sometimes feels impossible to say “no” to people and opportunities.

But when we look at Jesus’s life, we see that He was unhurried. He had margin in His life and His schedule wasn’t jam-packed. He prioritized getting away with the Father. He often would “withdraw to a desolate place and pray” (Luke 5:16). Jesus lived in submission to the Father, not in submission to the voice and pressures of the world. Jesus’s eyes were fixed on where He was going with the Father, not on all the work He “should be doing,” regardless of its perceived importance. He prioritized His time with the Father over anything else. In other words: Jesus had boundaries.

So how are we as women l setting boundaries in our lives?

The first thing we can do when presented with any type of opportunity (even the small ones) is to ask the Lord, “Is this something deserving of a holy no or a holy yes?”

Ask the Lord: “Is adding this to my life glorifying to you, Jesus, or will this cause me to make You less of a priority in my life? Does this bring honor to Your name? Is this something that You want me to do?”

It is easy to forget that God isn’t asking us to do more for Him. He’s asking us to be with Him, to get to know Him, and then to partner with Him in doing things. It’s possible He may only ask you to do one thing. But, beautiful obedience comes in doing that one thing well, rooted in His love.

A Holy Yes and a Better No

Saying “no” is hard. I know the gut-wrenching, stomach-turning feeling that can come with mustering up the courage to say “no.” But I also know the freedom, lightness, and beauty that comes afterwards.

A holy “no” with the Lord is radical surrender. It’s saying, “Lord, I trust you. My time and relationship with you is my priority.” A holy “yes” with the Lord is equally beautiful. Discerning when to say “yes” and when to say “no” comes from submitting and surrendering to the Lord and listening to His voice daily.

When we say “no” to things, we can trust that the Lord knows and sees our hearts regardless of what other people may say or think. Galatians 1:10 reminds us, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

This life we’ve been gifted is not intended for the approval of man but for the glory of God.
This life we’ve been gifted is intended to reflect the light of Christ.

Each “yes” and “no” matters. Bring every decision to the Lord. Invite Him into your thoughts and questions and let His still, small voice guide you in the little ways and the big ways.

What is deserving of a holy no or a holy yes today?



Allyson Golden is the creator of the online ministry Words Are Golden, where she champions women in their faith. A pediatric nurse, Allyson also is the author of Arise and Shine and the inspirational journal Words Are Golden. She is currently enrolled in seminary to obtain her master of biblical and theological studies degree. Allyson and her husband, Michael, partner in ministry at their local church in San Diego. Find her on Instagram @wordsaregolden.