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 blog in past tense. Like, “I used to struggle with this but I’ve really matured past it all. 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.

Though I have gotten better, I still have quite a ways to go. When I wrote Unglued, I confessed how hard it is for me to be honest with some people. My tendency to just stuff and smile has at it’s root, this desire to be liked.

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. Love them 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 the full extent of 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.”

* 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 in with my family. 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 found in Proverbs 31. Tucked between all the responsibilities she has is a verse that reveals her attitude. Proverbs 31:25 says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” What this says to me is she doesn’t set her heart up to dread what lies ahead.

* Make peace with the fact 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.
When looking for my "best yes" in a situation, I must take charge of my tendency to be a people pleaser. www.lysaterkeurst.com

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).

Now, I want to hear from you. Do you have some people-pleasing tendencies you know you need to work on? Or, have you discovered some things you’d like to share to help those still working through this?

I’d love to hear from you on this topic today. Let’s chat it up in the comments below.

And if you happen to live in city where there’s a K-LOVE radio station, I’ll be on the morning show today from 9-11 am EST and tomorrow from 7-9am EST. We’ll be discussing Unglued and taking callers. I’d love to hear your sweet voice.

But if you need to say no to me, I’m all about that. I will clap my hands and be so proud of you. See? We’re making progress on this people-pleasing thing together.


  1. says

    1) You rocked the radio this week.

    2) When I asked you to do me the favor of reading My One Word for possible endorsement, you sat on it awhile. You didn’t immediately respond. When you did respond, you said “Yes!” BUT, you added “I will need lots of time to read it. Not just a few weeks.” So I can attest that you practice what you preach here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    3) I love yopur interpretation of Prov 31:25 in this post – that she doesn’t create commitments she will later dread. That’s good stuff. Love ya, friend!

  2. Jeannie Kilpela says

    Oh Lysa~
    I am currently reading your newest book “Unglued.” OMGosh!!! I believe that you and I are the same person! I just finished reading where you talk about the exploder who blames others and realized that I do the same thing! I feel like I am bipolar or something crazy! I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am to you that you have written a book that i undoubtedly will get some help from!!! I listened to you this morning on K-Love, as I often do. You are so encouraging. Because of you, I have been reading several books on Proverbs 31 and have a struggle there as well. Nonetheless, I am working my way through it all and appreciate you:)

  3. Kat says

    I absolutely love this… I struggle with this tremendously but am learning! Some times Im better at it than others ๐Ÿ™‚ I am learning that when I say yes when I should have said no I usualy get overwhelmed & frustrated… And like you said, full of dread. I dont want to be that kind of woman. Thank you for honestly sharing!!

  4. Tammy Howard says

    People pleaser? I am a charter member of the club with matching t-shirt, jacket, AND hat! I have realized in going through my weight loss journey that constantly saying yes and doing what others wanted to please them was a BIG part of my weight. Every time I said yes and meant no, I stuffed down the anxiety and frustration with food. I am truly a recovering people pleaser!

  5. Donna Tiller says

    Dear Lysa,
    Thanks so much for being real…totally real….!!!! I want to read and study your book Unglued…I need it, I’m sure of it!!! lol I have so enjoyed your Proverbs 31 Devotionals…The LORD has surely ministered to me through them….again Thank You!!! HE has Blessed and Gifted you in a mighty way….keep it up, Girl…GOD isn’t finished with you yet….cause we all have got a lot to learn…and HE is teaching me so much through you!!!
    Love you My Sister-In-CHRIST!!!

  6. says

    Hi Lysa. Sometimes I think I am a clone of you. Every single devotion you write has me nailed all over it. I have been struggling so much lately with God’s “goodness” and love for me. It has been overwhelming, and though everyone else turns to me for wisdom and guidance, I feel like I don’t have a clue. A long string of ‘life’, I guess you could call it (sexual abuse of my children by a family member, miscarriages, bad health, drought affecting our ranch, on and on and on) has just overwhelmed me. I think maybe I’m just ungrateful, or something. Anyway, the more I read about your new book the more I believe I need it badly. I miss God. I miss loving Him and seeing His beauty in everything around me. I miss His joy. I have no idea how to pray for myself though I’m the coordinator of a 40 member prayer chain. I’m lost. But I know I need Him again. Thank you again for all your amazing devotions and being there for those of us that are walking this life like you. God bless!

  7. Grace miller says

    Since my husband has retired, he has turned into a traveling fool and I don’t feel the need to travel that much, not to mention that my arthritis and my health make it hard for me. But I can’t say no to all the trips he plans so I end up going but being resentful. Sure need to find the courage to say no and stay home, but I feel like I’m depriving him of the experiences because he says he won’t go without me.

  8. says

    I am a special education paraeducator, and last year, our pay got changed based on the level of need of the students we worked with. That is probably going to change, but we have to wait until Thursday to find out what changes have been made for this year’s agreement. In our tentative schedule, which is probably not going to be changed, I am assigned a double period with some students who are higher functioning, and on last year’s pay levels we would be given less pay to work with them. My gift is working with the lower functioning ones, and at least a couple of the girls in the class I am assigned to can be very hard to deal with because they are strong willed and don’t get along with each other. Plus, I am probably not going to be as busy most of the time in that class. I just got up to write myself an email with a thought that woke me up, hoping that I can go back to sleep and not think about it.

    I decided to read your Encouragement for Today. Your daughter’s story was touching. It also made me wonder if God is wanting me to be in this class for a reason. Actually, the teacher in the other class can be difficult to work with, so maybe it is God’s plan for me to be in the other class. I am so not looking forward to it, though!

    Then, I came here, and read about saying no. That’s what my heart wants to do. I was taken advantage of last year, and had quite a cut in pay. This will be my tenth year there.

    I see you have a lot of comments. I need to try to get back to sleep, so I can’t read any right now. I am very much a people pleaser, too. If anyone reads this, please pray for me to understand God’s plan, when to attempt to be assertive, and when to just back off and let God work. Of course it was my plan to go to my boss in the morning, and let him know my new thoughts about how I am being taken away from the students I”m gifted in working with. I’ll have to see how I feel about that then.

    Oh, and before I went to sleep, I read a couple devotions that are related to work. One of them talked about not complaining about things you are not happy about at work. Oops! There’s God at work, reminding me of my sin that I had just committed that day. I am so thankful for His forgiveness!

  9. Sandra says

    Hey Lysa thanks for your words of encouragement. Sometimes we try so hard to please others we forget that Jesus is the only one we should seek approval from. I thank you for your godly insight on People Pleasing. Great verses too. All the best with your new book. In Christ love

  10. Christine says

    Who are you? Where did you come from? How can God be so BIG that he’s blessed me with YOUR encouragement just here on my little ol computer screen? I mean, REALLY? I make my God so small, so often. I am hurting so badly from a friend who has basically dumped me and the people pleaser in myself wants so bad to somehow “fix it”. There was never an incident or arguement. She’s just decided I’m not for her anymore. It hurts. It hurts B I G. However, your book, your blog, your encouragement…..it’s been a HUGE blessing to me and I want to THANK YOU for allowing God to work through you….just for ME.

  11. Denise says

    I am also very much a people pleaser but am much better at saying no since I was diagnosed with cancer. It has helped me to put things into better perspective and I do things that are important and let the others go more than I used to. I love your posts and blogs. they really make you think about things. Thank you so much for everything you do to help others! In Christ’s love, Denise

  12. Leslee says

    I felt like I was reading a blog I wrote…LOL

    Thanks for giving very practical tips on how to respond and say “No”. I especially like that you gave several verses to support it. I am working on memorizing at least one of them now so that I respond in a way that honors God and my family.

    Know that your gifts and talents (and time) are greatly appreciated by me!!

  13. Mary Lou says

    I am such a people pleaser. I want everyone to like and accept me. I tend to over-extend, and my family pays the price. You spoke to me today, and you gave real tips and scriptures to help, not just some general idea. You gave me actual words to speak. Thank you! Can’t wait to read Unglued. Promised myself I wouldn’t buy it until I finish 1 of the 4 other books I’ve started. I’ll read fast. I promise!

  14. Charlotte Miller says

    A dear friend referred me to this blog because I have been overwhelmed with the needs of aging parents while trying to work and do ministry as well. As you said so succinctly, when I don’t say “no” it is my family who suffers most. A Christian counselor told me a couple of years ago that “No” can be just as positive a word as “Yes” because when I allow myself to say “No” I am making room for saying “Yes” to God as He leads. Our pastor preached a series of sermons a few years ago on building margin into our lives and it was life-changing for me. Once I began to say No to some things God opened up some amazing ministry opportunities that I would never have seen before, much less had time to take advantage of them. Thank you for sharing such practical guidelines for those of us who fight the compulsion to please everyone all the time. When I try to please everyone else, i definitely end up Not pleasing God and I truly do long to please Him most of all. Please keep doing what you are doing in ministry. Your transparency and the insights God is giving you are being used to change our lives for eternity and to better serve our Lord and King.

  15. says

    Yes, I am a recovering people pleaser myself. Yikes. It can so steal your time away from the important things. I am single so it is not my family but my time to “be still and know that He is God” I can get busy being a Martha and meeting with everyone so “I” can feel good “I” am helping those around me when I know that only God helps them and yes He chooses to use me, from time to time, but I will not know what to say or how to help unless I am taking time to sit at His feet, to understand His love for me before I try to “tell others of it”! I see how this will only get my complex once the Lord brings my husband and I do try to be thankful for where He has me because of the precious time we get to spend together, but of course I still pray for my husband!! I am 35!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your honesty Lysa!!!

  16. denise says

    I learned the hard way to stop saying yes to the outside world and putting my hubby first, thank goodness he is a patient man. I am so appreciative of my friends who understand this, who are at the same place as I am in my walk and maturity (or lack of some days) and who value their family life too. I have a friend who told me when she and her husband married they had made a decision that their home would be a place of peace and refuge. That helped me so much. The world is going to be harsh, when my husband walks through that door at the end of the day he needs to know that he is in a place of peace with a non-frenzied wife who saved some energy for him and the children. Saying no has been so liberating!!

  17. Mackenzie says

    I struggle as well, and am in the process of learning and practicing this very lesson! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also think about this verse when I think about saying “yes” when I really mean “no” or vice versa — “Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned. (James 5:12)

    I want to recommend the Boundaries book series by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. They take a Christian perspective on setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with friendships, families, work, marriages. I used to feel bad about saying “no” or not always being able to come through, but these books helped me realize that it’s okay and often beneficial to say no in certain circumstances.

    Thanks so much for a wonderful blog post! I’m excited to read Unglued! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Susan says

    I think you are so right about setting boundaries against what my “need to be liked” will get myself into by saying too many times, “Yes, I’ll do that.” I think the “need to be liked” is closely related to the “fear of being rejected.” Guess you have to be careful not to set boundaries simply to protect from getting hurt. I spent too many years protecting myself from ever getting hurt again and missed out on the joy of relationships. God reassured my heart that I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus is and was. Praise God for accepting us no matter what people may say or do! He “will never leave of forsake you” and me. Love is the most important thing, flowing from God through me.

  19. Karen Hoffman says

    I would like to leave a comment, but after reading your blog, I have to say……”no.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Seriously, I needed to read this and it’s something I’m going to print and keep on my refrigerator. I need to be reminded of this daily, sometimes hourly!)

    THANK YOU for reminding us “people-pleasers” we need to set boundaries.

    Karen Hoffman

  20. says

    I am late in finding this but so glad I did . I don’t struggle so much with the yes and no part, but hold back what I think and feel in situations to avoid disapproval. Thanks for the post..

  21. Christina says

    My saying “yes” all the time has backfired on me and has broken trusts in relationships. People ask me if I can do something and I always say yes, then I run into a big snag, then I’m too ashamed or prideful to say I’ve made a mistake and am unable to fulfill your request. It’s cost me a lot and I know now that I’m lying just to be accepted. No more. I’m praying to break this bad habit once and for all.