Overcoming the "Need to Please" Disease


Does your mouth say "yes" when your heart says "no"? Don't confuse God's command to love with the disease to please!

"The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe." Proverbs 29:25 (ESV)

Hello, my name is Lysa and I want people to like me. So, I will sometimes say yes when I really want to say no. And when I do say no, I sometimes worry about how much I'm disappointing that person.

I would much rather write this in past tense. Like, "I used to struggle with this, but I've matured past it. So, let me share how I bravely say no and never fret over that decision."

But this isn't a past-tense issue in my life.

No matter how I want to spin what this is, I have to be honest. I was born with the Need to Please Disease.

My heart races. I feel sick to my stomach. And I wish I could become invisible when someone requests something from me that I know is unrealistic right off the bat. My head says no, but my mouth says yes, and before I know it, I've just added another item to my already overflowing to-do list.

It's part of my DNA to love others and not disappoint them. But I have to realize real love is honest. Real love pursues authenticity rather than chasing acceptance.

We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.

So here's how I'm challenging myself to overcome the Need to Please Disease by making peace with these realities:

I am going to disappoint someone.
Every "yes" will cost me something. Every "no" carries with it the potential for disappointment.

Either I will disappoint this person by not meeting their expectations, or I will disappoint my family by taking too much time from them. Do I wish I could say yes to everything and still keep my sanity? Yes! But I can't. So here's how I will say no:

"Thank you for asking me. My heart says yes, yes, yes — but the reality of my time says no."

A good verse for this is our key verse today, Proverbs 29:25, "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe" (ESV).

I must pause before giving immediate answers.
Sometimes it might be realistic for me to say yes, but I've learned to let my yes sit for a spell. Pausing allows me to assess how much stress this will add into my life. The person asking me for this favor probably won't be on the receiving end of my stress. It's the people I love the most who will start getting my worst when I say yes to too many people.

So, here's how I will give myself time to make an honest assessment:

"Thank you for asking me. Let me check my calendar and think through some other commitments I've already made. If you haven't heard back from me by the end of the week, please connect with me again."

A good verse for this is Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come" (NIV, 1984). What this says to me is we don't set our hearts up to dread what lies ahead.

Some people won't like me.
In an effort to keep my life balanced, I will have to say no to many things. If someone stops liking me for saying no, they'll eventually stop liking me even if I say yes right now.

There are some people I won't please no matter how much I give. And some people won't stop liking me no matter how many "no" answers I give. My true friends are in that second group, and I love them for that.

Here's a great verse for this: "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ" Galatians 1:10 (ESV).

I challenge you to pause this week when asked to add something new to your plate. And remember ... pursue authenticity by being honest rather than chasing acceptance by always saying yes.

Dear Lord, help me to pursue authenticity this week as I'm faced with decisions and schedule changes. I want to focus on pleasing You, not people. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Psalm 84:12, "LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you." (NIV)

Do you find yourself aiming to please others over God? Take a look at the three statements Lysa listed above. Then choose one to consider and pray about this week.

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