Saying “NO” to Good Things….

By age 25, I was making a six-figure income selling software in Western NY. By age 27, I had two little kids, a house, two cars, and way too much to do!

At the end of a very successful sales year, my company offered me a Regional Manager’s job—something I had pursued. It would have meant a significant salary increase, managing a team of about 12 reps, and a move to Pittsburgh. My boss had fought for me to get this based on the aspirations I had shared with him a year or two before.

I turned it down.

I had several reasons for saying no. My family would have been taxed in the move since we’d be far from grandparents who were helping my wife while I ran all over selling—sometimes overnight and normally from 7 AM till 10 or 11 PM at night. I also knew that the job would be brutal—demanding almost perfection from me in order to make my quota through my reps in order to keep my own position. I’d be away from home even more than I had been. I’d also have to leave our local church—a place where I was serving and being groomed for ministry.

I said, “No thanks.”

Honestly, there have been times when I’ve looked back on that and wondered, “Did I do the right thing?” Still, each time I’ve questioned it, I come back with the same answer. “Yes.” My wife has cuddled up to me many times over the years, looked at me with her pretty eyes and said, “I’ll never forget how you took a lower position so you could be home with us more often. I know that was hard, but I’ll never forget it. I love you!”

Worth it! Yes…very worth it!

The Good Things…

In my experience, the hardest things to say, “No” to, are the good things. You know, the things that have value and are positive. All of us know that we’re supposed to refuse or reject bad things. It’s when we have too many good options that we struggle.

This is why having a clear priority list is vital. God first, family second, job third, others fourth…etc…. Listing those values and priorities can hep us sift and sort–sometimes saying “no,” even to good things. Like a promotion, for instance.

So…my advice is to put your marriage above other things that might be tempting…even the good things. You won’t regret it!



Pastor Joel

Avoiding “Foot-in-Mouth” Disease

I’ve had a few encounters with the mafia over the years. One was with a man who was an accountant for the mob. He and his wife started coming to our church but she came to me with complaints about him being abusive.

I met with the two of them to confront him. “This needs to stop,” I said, “Or, you’ll need to stop attending our church.” I had heard rumors that he was mafia-connected. Still, I didn’t take those rumors seriously until he said, “Wait a minute! Do you know who I work for?”

Before I had time to think, I leaned over and pointed upward toward heaven while shouting, “Do you know who I work for???”

He backed off…and that was a good thing because I would have needed a change of pants had he challenged me.

By God’s grace, it worked out great because he was more afraid of God than he though I was of him….

Opening the mouth before engaging the brain…

Most of the time, speaking before we think doesn’t work out as well as it did for me with my mafia friend. Normally, it leads to disaster.

So how do we avoid that?

James tells us that we should be, “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…(James 1:19).” What he actually does here is give us a formula for staying out of trouble. Here’s the truth:

  1. IF we are “swift to hear,”
  2. We WILL be “slow to speak.” And,
  3. IF we are “swift to hear and slow to speak,” we’ll be “slow to wrath.”

I have found that focusing on listening keeps me quiet when I should be quiet. It also helps me avoid imputing motives and jumping to conclusions which may be false. It works–try it! You might like it.

So…if you’ve been guilty of “foot-in-mouth” disease, try the James 1:19 formula. And, let me know how it works for you!


Till then,

Pastor Joel