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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Most Powerful Word in the World

by James L. Rubart

“Want to know what the most powerful word in the English language is?” 

My friend Scott had a thin smile on his face when he asked me that question ten years back.

“Love to hear it.”



“Yeah.” Scott turned and glanced at me as we drove toward his home in San Antonio. “No.”

He went on to explain how saying no brings great freedom. How we’re pre-conditioned to say yes, even when no part of our plate is visible they’re so full.

“Sure! Toss another dollop of potatoes on my plate. It’s only seven feet high at the moment.” 

Scott talked about how we say yes out of obligation, or fear of rejection, or because we’re worried we’ll miss out, and a hundred other reasons. But the result is the same. 

Feeling like we can’t breathe.

Where Do You Need to Say No?

  • A critique group?
  • A guest blog post?
  • Another Facebook group?
  • Volunteering at a conference?
  • Read a manuscript for possible endorsement?
  • Agree to look at a friend of a friend’s novel attempt?

Don’t misunderstand, all those things can be wonderful, but are we sure we’re doing it for the right reason? Did God tell us to say yes to all the things we’ve agreed to? Did we take time to ask him, or did we just dive in? 

Too often my mode has been just dive in. I haven’t asked the Lord; instead I’ve almost automatically said yes to things that sounded fun at the time, but later I realized it wasn't where God was leading.

Remember, if we’re doing A, we’re not doing B. And B might be the better (and God ordained) choice. 

Do you say yes more than you want to? Why? Have you discovered the power of no?

 James L. Rubart is the best-selling, Christy award winning author of six novels. His seventh, The Five Times I Met Myself, comes out this November

During the day he runs a marketing company which helps authors make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, take photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


  1. Yes, I have learned the power of No. Recently, I turned down a ghostwriting contract (and a five-figure financial compensation) because I had no peace about it. I really wanted to take it because I had worked with one of the parties before and enjoyed working with him. And the money was nice. And I was fearful of what saying no would do to possible future contracts and to my reputation. I prayed about it through several weeks of discussion and negotiating. Then, on the day I was supposed to send them a revised contract for signature, I woke up at genuine peace for the first time. I woke up hearing the Lord clearly say, "Walk away." So I did. And have not had one regret. I wanted the project to work for all the wrong reasons and the Lord finally got through to me.
    Thanks for such a wise post, Jim.

  2. Very interesting. Toddlers have no trouble saying NO.

  3. Thanks so much, James. I needed to hear this today, and it's confirmation about a NO I've been hesitant about making. Blessings!

  4. This is something I'v been learning to do. I've realized more lately, that my writing has to come first. Then the business of writing and the obligation I have as ACFW staff. In that, I can fit my critique partners because we don't meet physically.

    But after those and my family, there isn't much time. I've always been one who hates to say no, but I'm doing it better these days. I have a good pal, Patty Smith Hall, who keeps me accountable on that. Thanks, Patty!!

    But I need a reminder now and again, so thanks, Jim!

  5. I'm learning to say "no" thanks to a book by Rory Vaden, Procrastinate on Purpose. He makes the same point you made: that saying "yes" to anything equals saying "no" to many other things.

    It's interesting to hear the same message in a different voice after just finishing the book.

    Thanks for the confirmation!

  6. Love that, Henry. That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.

    Terri, that's such a great point. Why do they have no problem? Because they're not wrapped up in what other people will think.

    So cool to hear that, Kathy!

    Nice, Ane!

    Sounds like I need to check out that book, Carrie. Thanks!


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