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What's New:

  • Leslie in Minneapolis: Leslie will be speaking at the Lighthouse Christian Church on October 23rd. She will be doing a full-day event. This is open to the public. Find all the details here.

Are you a Magnet for Toxic People

by Leslie Vernick

If you find yourself in toxic and destructive relationships over and over again you may be tempted to blame yourself. What’s wrong with me that I continue to attract toxic individuals? Maybe nothing is “wrong” other than you have too much of a good thing. Below are seven Christian virtues that often attract manipulators, users and takers. Don’t change your good qualities. Instead add clear boundaries, wisdom and discernment, and a good firm no when you need it.

1. People Pleasing:

You naturally enjoy making people happy. People gravitate to givers. If you are a person who loves to give, that’s great…as long as you also are free to say “no” without feeling guilt or pressure when you disappoint someone.

Get clear on what YOU need; on what you can do and what you can’t do, what you want to give and what you don’t want to give. Learn to handle others' disapproval or disappointment.

2. Loyalty

When you are unquestionably loyal to a habitual liar, a cheater, or to someone who doesn’t reciprocate loyalty, then your loyalty can become dangerous and harmful to you and others around you. Many people hate confrontation and conflict. We don’t like to speak up sometimes, even when necessary.

The Bible does say to love our enemy, but it doesn’t require us to trust our enemy or be friends with our enemy.

3. Forgiveness:

Toxic people love a “70 times 7” forgiver. Why? Because they can perpetually take advantage, abuse, and neglect you with only an occasional trite apology.

As a Christian, you are called to forgive. But that does not require you to be a perpetual doormat or to trust someone who has harmed you. Proverbs 25:19 says, “Putting confidence (trust) in an unreliable person is like walking on a broken foot or chewing on a broken tooth” Not smart.

4. Forbearance:

Overlooking an offense is a great quality. We are not to be easily offended. Ignoring serious sin, being passive, or pretending it isn’t happening is dishonest, not biblical forbearance.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable in certain situations. You must learn to speak up and sometimes stand up for truth and against injustice and evil.

5. Kindness:

Kindness with no boundaries is a recipe for being used. Did you know you can be kind and say no kindly?

Stewarding the resources of your time, your energy, your finances and your talents is not selfish, it’s biblical and wise.

6. Selflessness:

A selfish person loves to be with a person who is willing to give up her needs, her goals, her feelings, her voice, and her very identity in order to make the other person happy.

Dying to self does not mean having NO self. It means dying to pride and ego; in other words, not being narcissistic. When you allow yourself to be worth less than the other person, you begin to feel worthless. When you are treated as an object to use (even professionally) instead of as a person, your selflessness not only hurts you, it also hurts the other person by allowing their selfishness to grow.

7. Naïve trust:

The Bible never says we should always trust everyone. We are called to forgive, but not always to trust. When someone demands forgiveness and amnesty, while continuing to repeat his or her sin, it shows you that this person who has broken your trust is not repentant despite what he/she says. (Proverbs 25:19; John 2:24; 2 Timothy 4:14-15)

Christian teaching often glorifies dying to self, forgiveness, loyalty, kindness, forbearance, selflessness, and trust. Yes, these are wonderful virtues; biblical qualities to develop in yourself to be a good person and leader. But, equally important are wisdom, discernment, good boundaries, and the ability and courage to say “no” without feeling guilty or selfish.

Being virtuous and being healthy are not mutually exclusive. It is part of being and becoming a whole and healthy person.


Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy

by Leslie Vernick

Counselor and author Leslie Vernick has discovered that many people pray, “Lord, I just want to be happy!” With candor, Leslie reveals that readers don’t need new circumstances but a new perspective to discover true happiness. With biblical insight, Leslie guides readers to take simple steps as they…

  • recognize and change habits that, day by day, keep them from experiencing happiness
  • make good choices and learn from mistakes without beating themselves up
  • develop the skills that enable them to let go of negative and painful emotions more quickly
  • transform difficult circumstances so they can live with gratitude, joy, and purpose

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” by Leslie Vernick are Donna B. and Charity J.



Want to have Leslie speak at your event?
Click here to find out more information.

Lighthouse Christian Church
October 23rd
Rosemount, Minnesota
Learn the details here.

The Village Church
December 2nd
Flowermound, TX

Center for Christian Counseling
Date TBA
Madison, WI

How Much Should I Forbear

This week’s question: Thanks to you and a couple of other helpful counselors, I realized last year that my marriage was hurting and in need of change. I confronted my husband with some of the things he was doing, and we sought counsel from a Biblical counselor who said we should most definitely not split up, but work on things together.

Ultimately he did not change until I asked him to leave and get counsel by himself. By then, I had gotten a couple of pastors involved, and he felt compelled to go. Counseling seemed to be effective. He was gone for two months until he seemed truly repentant and I was willing to let him come home. He has done better than before but has gone back to some of his old behaviors. It’s mild compared to what it was before, but how much should I let slide? Am I to expect perfection now? How much space should I give him to grow? And how can I talk to him about these issues without becoming a nag? Thanks in advance for your help.

Answer: This is such an important question because you don’t want to wait until things get back to where they were before you separated.

You are wise to understand your husband will never be perfect. Nor will you.

What People Are Saying About Leslie’s Empowered To Change Group

“I Learned some valuable lessons. Knowing Core Values (who I am) is different than my fickle feelings and thoughts is huge for me. Avoiding ‘what if' thinking and ‘worse case scenario disease' will also be helpful to me. Difference between acknowledging and accepting is good for me to know. I acknowledged the problems 10 years ago, but have only moved closer to accepting in last year. Being responsible for my well-being is new to me. Giving up hope of change in my husband has come very slowly. Grieving currently as this is sinking in. The class helped me see a lot of things. Trusting God to work it all ‘into' me. I pray it will move me forward. I need hope for me and kids.”

~ Graduate of Empowered To Change


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States