Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
- Psalm 119:105
“I want you to pray about something,” my mentor-friend asked.
I was pretty certain I knew what she was going to say. A ministry opportunity had recently opened, and since I had done similar work in my professional career, I immediately prayed about volunteering.
I asked her if she was referring to the opening. She nodded. “You would be a tremendous asset.”
“I have already prayed and the Lord said no.”
I have always been a people pleaser, especially when it comes to those I hold in high regard and value their opinion. Her request was a huge vote of confidence in my skills and abilities.
“Please pray about it again.”
I confess, if this opportunity had been six months earlier and the answer was no, I would have tried to convince God to say yes. Partially to please my friend; partially because I have been trying to find purpose in this new season of my life; and, mostly, because I would enjoy serving in that capacity.
Yet the Lord has me in a season of quiet and non-commitment. While I don’t fully understand what He is doing, I sense He is undoing my unhealthy habits, including thinking I must meet everyone’s expectations and always say yes to make them happy.
The next week, she brought it up again. “They really need someone qualified to step in the role.”
Surprisingly, I didn’t waver. “God said no. I sense in His perfect timing, He will bring someone who is younger and has fresh vision; someone who will take the ministry where it needs to go.”
She looked at me intently; she is very discerning and has the gift of seeing things others miss. For a split-second, I wondered if I had missed God; yet I knew I had heard clearly.
Silence hung between us.
“Sharon, thank you for listening to God and not giving in to my persistence.”
Twice since that conversation, I’ve had someone try to convince me to change my mind about a decision I made. And that troubles me, tremendously.
We are called to encourage one another. When someone is making unwise and un-Biblical decisions, we need to hold them accountable and correct in love. But when someone is actively seeking God for guidance and is willingly surrendered to do what He tells them, we shouldn’t try to change their mind. When we do, we are asking them to be disobedient and to do our will rather than the will of God. It also strongly insinuates to them they are not capable of hearing correctly from the Lord.
Countless times I have caved to persuasion. I said yes when I knew my answer should have been no and the consequence was miserably painful. There have been times when I initially thought the answer would be no, but as I persisted in prayer, God made it evident the answer was yes. Sometimes the nos — and yeses — are only for a season.
So, when someone tells you no, trust they have heard from God and support their decision. Saying no is hard; we shouldn’t make it harder.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
- Proverbs 3:5-6