The True Cost of Saying YES Too Often

Is Your YES Really a NO to What Matters Most?

“Let your YES be YES and your NO be NO,” Jesus said. The context was the making of vows. If you say you’re going to do something, be sure to do it. But how often do we say YES without realizing the true cost?


Every time we say YES, we also say NO.

We can’t do it all.

As finite beings, we must make trade-offs.

If we say YES we will serve at church on Sunday morning, we cannot also say YES we will spend that morning with family.

If we say YES we will take on another work project that requires us to work on the weekends, then we say NO to helping our children with their projects on the weekend.

If we say YES to seasons of intentional rest, we say NO to other opportunities to make more money.

Trade-offs. They’re everywhere.

They are real, not imaginary.

And they are not bad things.

The Value of Trade-offs

Unfortunately, we tend to avoid making the tough choices because we don’t want to disappoint others. We fear what they will think, what they will say, and worse—what we think they will say when we project our fears onto them.

In the end, we run from a monster that often exists only in our imaginations.

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. –Proverbs 29:5 NLT

When God commanded us to keep the Sabbath Day holy, he was instituting margin into our lives. (Interestingly, 10% of a week is 16.8 hours, about one day, not counting time for sleep.)

He knew we would tend to lose our focus on what matters most—Him—and skip rest in our quest to do more.

He knew that, ultimately, our pursuit of more would consume us, so he forced us to choose.

Jesus also said that we cannot serve both God and money. We must choose.

He challenged the rich young ruler with a trade-off—love your stuff or follow me.

He warned us to count the costs before tackling a new direction, even the costs of following Him.

Our relativistic culture preaches a different gospel—you can have it all, do it all, be all things to all people.

It tells us we can bend the meaning of words to fit whatever definitions we desire and reality will bend with it.

Not true.

Gender doesn’t change because we want it to. Marriage doesn’t change because a court redefines it. And time doesn’t bend to our wishes simply because we say YES too often.

For every YES, there is an equal and opposite NO.

When we realize this truth, we can better evaluate the cost of saying YES.

Ask this Question

The next time you find yourself ready to say YES to something—no matter how good it may seem or how pressured you may feel—push pause.

Ask yourself this question: If I say YES to this, what am I saying NO to?

Remind yourself of these immovable facts:

  • I cannot do it all.
  • The more I do, the lower the quality of all I do.
  • I can choose what I will do well and what I will not do.
  • My story will be written by what I choose to do well.

The true cost of saying YES without recognizing the NO is that we let someone else write our life story.

Bonnie Ware, a nurse who cared for people as they neared the end of this earthly season of their story, shared “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.” 

The single greatest regret she heard expressed by those facing the reality of death was this:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

Put another way, I wish I’d had the courage to say NO to others expectations of me so I could have said YES to what mattered most.

Make your story worth telling where and when it matters most.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to discern the true cost of the choices you make.

Share your thoughts by clicking here.

What are you saying YES to today—and what is it truly costing you? [/Reminder]

How to Kill the Green-Eyed Monster of Envy

5 Ways to Stop Envy Before It Starts

It’s been called the green monster. Invidia in the Latin texts. A deadly sin. And a common one. Envy.

green eyed

I confess to falling for it at times. Far too many times. No matter how much success I experience, it’s never enough.

The book launch could have been bigger—like hers. The traffic could be higher—like his. The number of speaking engagements could be more—and so it goes. More. Always more.

As we strolled through our neighborhood last night, my wife and I noted features we liked about other houses, and I felt envy creeping in again—even though we have a beautiful home with more room than we’ve ever had before.

Envy, you see, is not rational. It doesn’t make sense when we think about it. But then we usually don’t think about it. We just go with the feeling and end up in a bad place.

But usually by the end of each day we’ve encountered more than a few people who appear to be enjoying success. More than we’re having, at least.

And that’s all it takes. We see it and we want it for ourselves.

Why Knowing Your Strengths Isn’t Enough

Finding Life Direction Requires a Kingdom Awareness

Finding your life direction requires figuring out your strengths. I shared about how I discovered my strengths in this post. But for the Christian seeking to live an authentic life, it will take more than an awareness of strengths to find God’s best for your life.


It will take a Kingdom awareness.

Our strengths reside where our passions and talents unite. So if we devote the bulk of our time to doing things where those two intersect, we will be more productive and more fulfilled.

Why? Because we are doing the kinds of things God wired us to do.

You do not need to be a Christ-follower for this to be true.

But the disciples of Jesus should desire more. Jesus calls us to follow him ahead of career ambitions, the love of money, or even family ties. Our life direction priorities must align with His Kingdom priorities.

What’s Holding You Back from God’s Best?

Your Life Direction Doesn't Have to Be a Mystery

Yes, but…. Have you ever used that expression when talking to yourself or others about what God might want you to do in life? Have you ever thought you had figured it out, only to conclude that God’s best just isn’t possible for you? You are not alone.


I’ve coached a lot of people through the process of figuring out their best life direction (and it is a process!). I’ve been through it myself and must continually re-engage the process to ensure I stay on course.

How to Overcome Impossible Obstacles

Mountains You're Facing May Be Smaller than You Think

One thing I’m still learning on my journey of faith is not to make assumptions about mountains, or obstacles and challenges I encounter along the way. For one thing, mountains are not always what they appear to be.


In the late 1800s, Half Dome was described as being “perfectly inaccessible.” Until someone blazed the trail and installed eye bolts into the granite. Now tourists regularly accomplish what was once considered an impossible feat.

When the Hebrews faced the Red Sea, they thought it an impassable barrier. It wasn’t. When we were homeless and without money, buying a house seemed impossible. Not so. [Get some encouragement and read more of our story in my new book A Story Worth Telling.]

Whatever challenges you may be facing today, rest assured that they only seem like mountains from your perspective. And perspectives can change.

A Story of Overcoming Mountains

My friend Daniel Buell was the co-founder of Cornerstone Christian Academy where I served for a dozen years before stepping out to answer God’s call to write as a Kingdom catalyst. He too faced a seemingly impossible task in the summer of 2000 when he agreed to lead the effort to launch and open a college-prep school for grades 7-12—in less than two months!

At the time, only eleven students were enrolled, I was the only teacher with a contract, and the school had not yet been charted by the state of Ohio. Anyone with any experience in education will tell you that these barriers Dan faced were insurmountable. Perhaps with an additional year—and a lot of money—the task could be done. Maybe.

But Dan persisted by faith, believing that God had called him to run toward the seemingly impossible to establish a vibrant Christian school for God’s glory. He built a dedicated team quickly and spent a lot of nights in the office, watching the sun come up on yet another stack of completed paperwork.

Nothing came easily. And that is often why choose to walk away from the challenge of a mountain. Overcoming them is never easy. But mountains make the ideal settings for the best stories to reveal the majesty of God.

Incredibly, when the first bell rang, the school opened with full faculty, an enrollment of 131, and state-charter status in record time—an accomplishment that was nothing less than a bureaucratic miracle.

Today the school is thriving. It consistently enrolls around four hundred students annually in grades K-12 and sends graduates to the best colleges and universities throughout the nation. Where most saw impossibility, Dan saw something different: opportunity. Here’s his perspective: “A mountain is merely a change in the terrain you must travel, so keep hiking.”

And that’s the other funny thing about mountains. From God’s perspective, there are none.

You may have heard the expression that someone is “making a mountain out of a molehill,” making a big deal about something that is truly insignificant. We all too easily forget that God sees no mountains, only molehills.

If we can remember God’s perspective as we answer his call to live a story worth telling, we can patiently be still and watch him work, like Moses, even while we keep moving forward–even running toward–the mountains we encounter and overcome by faith.

Question: What mountains are you facing now that seem impossible to you? How might your perspective change if you could see them as opportunities for God’s glory to be revealed? Share your thoughts by clicking here.

The One Thing Every FaithWalker Must Do

And Why Each of Us Easily Qualifies to Do It

Every Christian wants to one day hear the words, “Well, Done!”  Each FaithWalker wants to do great things for God. But most of us think we just don’t have what it takes to qualify for the Faith Hall of Fame.

Heroes of the faith

We’ve all got stories we tell ourselves about why we don’t belong on the field with those “Major League Christians” we meet in the pages of Scripture. [See my post The Myth of the Minor League Christian.] It’s as if we think we must be perfect in order to qualify for walking by faith.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Thank God!

In fact, do you know the one thing every FaithWalker in Scripture seems to have had in common? Failure.

I’m Giving Away My New Book to Pastors Only

Plus Catalyst Atlanta Tickets and a Few Guest Posts You May Have Missed

It’s Memorial Day in America! A day when we remember those who gave their last measure of full devotion by faith — they died for what they believed to be true.

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These brave men and women were FaithWalkers in many ways. And my next post will ask the question — what beliefs would you defend at the risk of losing your life?

A Free Gift for Pastors Only

But today, as you relax, remember, and enjoy the company of friends and family, I just wanted to pass along some news you can use and a few guest posts you may have missed from last week.

First, I’m giving away my new book A Story Worth Telling for FREE to PASTORS ONLY! And one pastor will win two free tickets to Catalyst Atlanta along with 8 copies of my new book for small-group study.

Total prize value: $750!

Click here to discover more — and please pass this post or the page link ( along to any pastors you may know.

Memorial Day Reading You May Have Missed

If you somehow do get a moment to read today, here are three guest posts I wrote at various places last week:

You may have faced—or are facing now—what appear to be impossible obstacles, massive mountains that threaten to keep you from answering God’s call to live a story worth telling.


Continue reading…

Every day you lead, you are writing a story. You don’t have to be a writer or even put pen to paper to make it a good one. But you do need one key ingredient: belief.

Regardless of your beliefs about spiritual matters, your leadership legacy will be determined by your faith.

Continue reading…

It’s time. Or at least you think it might be. You’ve been sensing a struggle within for a while, but you’ve kept it to yourself.  You’ve felt a restlessness, a sense that you should be pursuing a new life calling, something more in line with your God-given gifts — but you’re scared to step out without knowing how it will all turn out.

Continue reading…

Quick update: A Story Worth Telling finished the week as the #1 paperback New Release in Christian Faith at Amazon! Many thanks for all of you who are helping to spread the word.

If you don’t have your copy yet, click here now to start making your life memorable.

Special Alert! Guest Post with Ron Edmondson Today

I am privileged to have a guest post featured with Ron Edmondson today at his stellar blog where he shares his thoughts on leadership, church, and culture.

Ron is one of the leading bloggers on pastors, leadership, and church issues — and truly great guy.

Check out my post and share it if you think it has value:

Ten Things to Know before Pursuing a New Life Calling

And to those visiting FaithWalkers for the first time from Ron’s site, welcome!

I invite you to claim a free chapter from my new book releasing everywhere in just a few hours!

Click here to claim a free chapter of A Story Worth Telling and find out how to get faith-building resources valued at $284

Why You Need Not Fear Being Afraid

My friend Dan Nichols recently wrote a post identifying fear as the greatest threat to leadership. It got me thinking. I agree that fear keeps many people from living a story worth telling, but it doesn’t have to if we make fear our friend.


None of us enjoy feeling that our story might not turn out the way we want it to. Fear is what we feel when we sense we’ve lost control, when we’re uncertain about what might happen next. When we don’t know how things are going to turn out, we feel fears icy grip tighten around our soul.

But fear is not all bad. In fact, out of our control is what we should be feeling — it is the reality in which we live. When circumstances bring us face-to-face with this reality, we have a choice: let our fear control us, or see it as an opportunity to live a more authentic life.