The Most Powerful Word in the World

by James L. Rubart

“You want to know the most powerful word in the English language?” 

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

“Love to hear it.”


“No what? No you’re not going to tell me?”

“No is the word.” Scott turned and glanced at me as we drove toward his home in San Antonio, his smile now bigger. “No.”

He explained how saying no brings great freedom. How we’re pre-conditioned to say yes, even when our plates are so full all we can see is a mountain of food. 

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

No, you can’t. I can’t. No one can. 

Scott talked about how we say yes out of obligation, or fear of rejection, because we think it will curry favor with people with more power. 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.

New Year

We’re only three weeks into the New Year and I’m guessing many of us have already given up on keeping our plates clear. We’ve been reminded once again there are only 24 hours in the day.

Where Do You Need to Say No?

  • To a critique group?
  • Unsubscribing to all those newsletters you never read?
  • Turning down a guest blog post?
  • Saying no to one more Facebook group?
  • Volunteering at a conference?
  • Joining the PTA?
  • Reading a manuscript for possible endorsement?
  • Agreeing to look at a friend of a friend’s novel attempt?

Don’t misunderstand, each of those examples can be an excellent use of our time, but are we doing it for the right reason? Did we seek the wisdom of trusted family and friends? 

Did we seek God’s counsel on the choice? 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 realized was not a house God was building. 

Remember, if we’re doing A, we’re not doing B. And B might be the better choice. 

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

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of seven novels as well as a professional speaker. During the day he runs his marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at