Saying “No”

Two years ago I arranged to present an academic paper at Oxford on the Wise Women of the book of Samuel.  I was really looking forward to going back to Oxford where we lived for six years, visiting my church (St. Aldates), seeing colleagues and sharing some of my research.

We moved away 7 years ago and went back once in 2008.  We loved England and we desperately miss it now.

In the fall of 2012 when I was in the middle of my health crisis (reflux, vocal chord damage, sleeplessness, panic attacks), I had to cancel speaking engagements at churches and conferences.  I also canceled my talk and trip to England.

If I hadn’t canceled that trip, I would be giving my paper right now.

IsayNO1As painful as it is for me to think about not being in Oxford, I’m glad I said “No” to the wise women of Samuel talk.  It was a wise decision.

By saying “No” back in October, my stress level went down a notch, which needed to happen.

Two weeks ago, I was offered a very attractive 2-week teaching gig in Colorado.  I would have loved it.  But I have two book contracts that I’ve committed to (a Kings commentary for Zondervan and a Historical books textbook for Fortress) and teaching for two weeks in Colorado, and grading for two more back home, would have prevented me from making much progress on those books.  So, I said “No” to teaching in Colorado.  Ask me at the end of the summer how those book projects are coming.  

I’m slowly getting better at saying “No“.

Maybe you have no problem saying no.
Maybe your life isn’t busy enough.
Maybe that’s why you have time to read my blog…

But if you’re like me, and most Americans, you probably need to say no to more things, in order to make sure the most important things get done.

What do you need to say “No” to?  And you can’t say “blog reading.”  

Let’s practice together: “No.”
Again: “No.”
One more time: “Yes.”
That wasn’t right.  That was actually aYes.”  I know it’s easy to get the two confused, but “Yes” is the opposite of “No.”  

See, it’s hard to say “No”  Keep working on it.  I will.


  1. Thanks David. I’m that kind of person saying YES to everything and anybody. I do not mean to practice drinking, sex or pornography, but “May you make me a favor, please? I have lost a lot of time in reading my Bible and attending my Christian group cause to say always YES.

  2. Yup. I know this well. My body is good at saying no for me, and I am right in the middle of a big fat no now. I’m now having to build up little yeses – the temptation is to want to try and make up for lost time, and say yes to all the things I’ve postponed. It’s hard saying no to the fun things! I think you are wise.


    You guys SO need to come back to England! Come visit! Say yes to England!

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