"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
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 call it people-pleasing.
It's part of my DNA to love others and not disappoint them. But I have to realize real love is honest. Real love cares enough about other people to say no when saying yes would build up a barrier in the relationship. Real love pursues authenticity rather than chasing acceptance.
So here's how I'm challenging myself to break free from people-pleasing ... I have to make 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 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 that 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 heart 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's 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 take a long 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, thank You for Your Word. I love how it applies to such every-day issues, like people-pleasing. Please help me discern when I should say yes and when I should say no. I want to be a good steward of my time, a good friend/wife/mother/employee, but sometimes I get so caught up in what everyone else wants me to do. Help me see Your will for each situation and respond clearly . In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
How can the practice of pausing before saying yes improve your relationships?
Go ahead and write your pre-determined response when having to say no and potentially disappointing a friend or acquaintance.
Acts 24:16, "So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." (NIV)