We all have a THEM. THEM could be real people or perceived as real people. Either way, we deal with THEM all the time. At every meeting. At every table. In every parking lot. THEM have multiple faces, always good intentions, and most times a lot of wisdom. 

We submit to THEM. We meet with THEM. We lead THEM. We serve alongside THEM. THEMs fill our schools, media, churches, and homes. My best relationships and greatest joys come from THEM.

MAKE THEM TELL ME NO is a mantra I repeat in my head and use, in prayer, to guard my heart when I want buy-in for an idea. I play out in my head, “What’s the worse that can happen?” and the answer is always, “They could tell me, ‘NO.’”

But that’s just the first NO. 

NO is a perfectly good answer, but it doesn’t have to be the final answer. That’s up to me, not THEM. It’s just the first NO. The NO for now.

I can be disappointed, but it’s not personal. I invite the Holy Spirit to do His work in me and in THEM.

I remember reading in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point that there is a chemical released in our brains as soon as we say YES and a different chemical for NO. It’s physiological. Once that YES chemical gets released, it’s almost impossible to turn it off and reverse it. Same for a NO. When the answer is NO, a chemical is released in the brain running through the body that is almost impossible to reverse. That’s why I can accept a NO as only the first NO.

After the first NO, I’ll do more research. I’ll offer more teaching about it.  I’ll pray through it further. I’ll chat with other stakeholders and networkers to keep the conversation going with THEM. I’ll pray for another opening with THEM, and I’ll ask again.

It’s been my experience THEM like to represent others who aren’t in the conversation. My THEM want to answer for their THEMs always leaning on the side of love for their THEMs and typically with caution. It sounds like, “We’ve already tried that,” or “They won’t like it,” or “Not everyone is on a computer,” or “We used to do that,” or, you get the picture. A NO can come is a lot of packages and be expressed in lots of ways.

If I get another NO, that’s just the second NO.

When I go in for the third time, I have now heard all the reasons for NO and I can come prepared with WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR YOU TO GIVE ME A YES? 

This I know….

  • I can not assume a NO from THEM. So I won’t let the enemy talk me out of it before I even pitch it.
  • I’m gonna make THEM tell me NO.
  • If I get a NO, it’s just the first NO for now.
  • If I get a second NO, it’s just the second NO for now.
  • If it’s worth the effort and goal, I’ll always go in asking for MORE and let the negotiations commence. 
  • It’s not personal.

Devin Gordon is an enthusiastic, disciple-maker and a skilled attorney. We partner in ideating innovative disciple-making opportunities for family faith formation in my local church and beyond. He tells stories upon stories of his season as an entertainment attorney constantly operating in negotiation mode to a mutually-satisfying end.  I hear his voice in my head to go in asking for MORE than I think I need to give room for negotiation. If I come in with the bare minimum ASK and the negotiations take place, and they always do, I’ll be disappointed and the devil gets a toe-in because I come away with less than the bare minimum. I’ll feel hurt by the words and whittling of my brothers and sisters in my church family and relationships will be strained. No matter what, I want to grow relationships rather than strain them within the body of Christ. Going in asking THEM for MORE keeps the devil out of the details and helps me actively guard my heart and my mouth. (James 3:5-12; Proverbs 13:3)

The Holy Spirit constantly surprises me with the prevenient work He does among God’s people within systems, practices, and attitudes with extraordinary intention, energy, and creativity. He can be trusted. Will I be faithful to do the hard work it might take with THEM?

Make THEM tell you NO, and see how our awesome Lord we serve works it out.

Then tell the stories!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33