Just Say "NO"

One of my congregation’s pastors left in March. Since then, I’ve feared people would assume I’d take on many of her responsibilities since she and I worked closely together.

The problem is, there’s no room in my schedule to do so. Like everyone else I know in ministry, my schedule is maxed out. I already work far more hours than I get paid for.

As I’ve discussed my fear with others, people have consistently encouraged me to “Just say no”. That sounds nice but it’s much easier said than done. After all, this pastor’s responsibilities were important. Someone needs to do them. Since I like to please others, it might as well be me, right?


Having learned the hard way that if I overextend myself, nobody wins, over the last few months, I’ve been exceptionally vigilant about preventing job creep. To help decide what to say “no” to, anytime I’ve been asked to do something, I’ve filtered the request through these questions:

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Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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