Are You Being Too Nice? Not Uncommon for Chronically Ill

Are you too nice? Is there such a thing for Christians? How can we be kind, but also please God, not be people pleasers?

By Leslie Vernick

Do you ever find yourself saying “yes” when you want to (or should) say “no”? For example, several years back, a graduate student asked me if I thought she would make a good counselor. I knew her gifts weren’t strongest in that area, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She left our conversation believing I thought she was capable.

We all do it. We say “yes” when our honest response should be “no.” But let’s take a look at the cost of being too nice.

By being too nice, we can hurt people

It amazes me how unaware we are of how we injure people by being too nice. Isn’t that why we’re nice to begin with? We don’t want to hurt people? When I wasn’t completely honest with my intern, I unintentionally hurt her. She spent time, energy, and money pursuing a career that didn’t reflect her true calling.

In another example, Lydia worked hard to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother. But the more she gave, the more her husband and children took, with little concern or even awareness of Lydia’s needs.

Lydia became exhausted caring for everyone with no one giving back to her. Over time, Lydia’s niceness enabled her family to become more and more self-centered, self-absorbed, and selfish. Lydia didn’t mean to, but she weakened her husband and children by not inviting them into a more reciprocal relationship.

Here’s another way we wound people by being too nice. Debbie was a new believer who attended Nancy’s Bible study at church. Debbie began phoning Nancy at home, asking a question or wanting to talk something through.

Debbie always took Nancy’s calls, but soon grew weary. She didn’t want to discourage her new friend, but found her neediness overwhelming. Instead of being more honest with Debbie and setting a better schedule for phone calls, Nancy started using her caller ID to screen her calls. Eventually Debbie caught on and felt hurt and abandoned. Nancy’s niceness gave Debbie the impression that she was always available any time night or day.

When we are being too nice and fail to set appropriate boundaries, we may not mean to, but we hurt people. The only person who can be always available without getting crabby or tired is God. Don’t try to do his job. You will fail every time and the other person will get hurt.

By being too nice we hurt ourselves

There is nothing unbiblical about being wise with who you give yourself to. While in college, Sharon took a walk with a young man she wasn’t attracted to, nor was she very comfortable with. She said yes because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings by saying “no thanks”. During their walk, he sexually assaulted her. Every day she deeply regrets that she was being too nice.

It doesn’t have to be a dangerous or suspicious situation for us to learn to simply say “no thank you, I can’t,” or “I don’t want to.” We all have limited resources of time, energy, and money. When we allow others to take from our resources without limits, it’s like giving them unrestricted access to our checking account and then feeling angry when we’re constantly overdrawn.

If giving to someone hurts you, count the cost. Sometimes it’s appropriate to sacrifice yourself for another, and other times it’s foolish. Jesus tells a story about five women who refused to share their lamp oil with five others who did not bring enough for themselves. Instead of rebuking these women for being stingy, Jesus called them wise (Mathew 25:1-13).

By being too nice we miss God’s best

Each day there are endless things and people that clamor for our attention. Oswald Chambers reminds us that “the great enemy of the life of faith is the good that is not good enough.” Don’t allow other people to set your values, your schedule, or your priorities.

Many people asked Jesus to do things for them, but Jesus always looked for what God wanted first–even if it meant disappointing people. (See Mark 1:29-38 or John 11:1-6.) When we are too nice and passively accommodate others, we could very well miss God’s best.

How do I make good choices about being too nice?

Finally, here are some steps to help you stop being too nice:

1. Understand that beeing too nice isn’t one of the fruits of the Spirit. Being kind doesn’t mean you always say “yes.” It means that you learn to say “no” kindly.

2. Before you say “yes,” stop and say, “Let me think about that. I’ll get back to you.” This will give you time to think through whether you’re being too nice or if you really feel led to do it.

3. Let go of guilt. You can’t be all things to all people nor do everything people want. Jesus was perfect, and he still disappointed people.

Leslie Vernick is a licensed counselor with over 25 years of experience helping individuals, couples, and families. “Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy”. It’s received over 75 reviews and has 5 stars! This book will help you recognize and change habits that, day by day, keep you from experiencing happiness; make good choices and learn from mistakes without beating yourself up; develop the skills that will enable you to let go of negative and painful emotions quicker; and transform difficult circumstances so you can live with gratitude, joy, and purpose. Visit Leslie’s web site to submit a question for her to answer!

Reprinted with permission, Copyright LeslieVernick.com

Note from Lisa, editor at Rest Ministries,

When we live with illness we can easily feel guilty about all that we cannot do, perhaps how our family misses out on things because of our disease. To compensate, it is easy to give in to everything they want that we are “somewhat” capable of. We are all guilty of being too nice when we should have set healthy boundaries instead. And just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.

For example, I have been trying to encourage my family members to pick up after themselves better, so that I don’t have to do so much of this, so I have leftover energy to do fun things with them or make healthy (not last-minute) dinners.

I know it is easier to talk about then it is to put into place. How could you “stop being too nice” to help improve not only your life, but the life of those around you?

Here is What Our Readers Have Shared:

  1. Joyce Meyers says:

    It is vitally important to teach children to help at home, even young children (age 2) can dust rungs of chairs, help find matching socks, pick up their toys. If children are doing their part, moms can be free to cook a decent meal (with help from the children), and not be so stretched. Learn to say, “No” and mean it when people want you to teach SS, organize VBS or some other GOOD thing that will just tax your energy so much. And if they say, “I can do all things with Christ who strengthens me,” you have my personal permission to silly string them.

  2. When we lived in Pittsburgh, the church was a short distance from our house and we walked the two blocks. Being new to the area and anxious to make friends, I said, “Yes” to everything that the Members and Minister asked me to do. This resulted in always being fatigued with little energy to do my house work.

    One day my husband came home and expressed his feelings that the whole kitchen was cluttered with unwashed dishes. He made a bargain with me that he would buy a dishwasher if I could learn to say, “No”, and not be available to what others were expecting of me.

    Being raised to be a Pleaser,, I had allowed my priorities to be shifted and out of balance. This was not pleasing to God who saw that I was becoming a slave with good intentions, but short on Wisdom. My personality was that of being a Mary, but I had allowed others to only appreciate me as a Martha. Little did I realize the model that I was becoming to my four year old daughter who asked one day, “Mommie, are these cupcakes for the church again, or can Daddy and I have some, too?”

  3. Carol Adams says:

    Wow, this really hits home. Recently an old friend moved back to my area. She has a lot of needs. My husband and I helped her some. And then everytime I spoke to her she wanted/needed something else. It just got to be too much and started to feel like manipulation.
    My daughter pointed out to me that I was using up my emotional energy on this person and that I needed to use it for taking care of myself. And the situation was really stressing me out.
    In this case it seemed necessary to stop all help as it was never enough for her. Yes, I have been guitly of being too nice.
    Thank you for this message. It is one we all need to be aware of.

  4. This is so true and such a hard lesson that I am having to slowly learn. I have been in a very similar situation to Sharon but still feel like I can’t just turn my back on him because he has no one and nothing else. I have put myself in a manipulative and controlling relationship because I was “too nice” to say no and turn my back.

  5. OH MY YES!!!!!!
    I just recently read a note from a christian with gluten issues who actually refuses to demand that the kitchen keep the bread OFF her plate. She actually removes it herself and eats the contaminated meat so she won’t seem “difficult” to the resturant staff!

    What she fails to realize is this:
    I would be sick for up to 8 weeks from such treatment in a resturant. I must demand the PROPER handling of my food!
    Following her example to the same resturant staff, I appear to be difficult rather than have a real need to protect my health. I frequently receive food that has been handled so poorly that I end up seriously ill. It is so bad that I rarely ever go out to eat anymore.

    We have to realize that every action we take affects others. If every person with gluten issues asks for the same treatment, everyone receives better treatment.
    I am sure there are other areas of life where we need to consider how our actions affect those who follow behind us.

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