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Are You Guilty of Being Too Nice?

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.

We 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 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.

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 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).

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.

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

1. Understand that 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


Moving Beyond People Pleasing (E-book)

By Leslie Vernick

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The winners of the Domestic Violence cd by Leslie Vernick are Joyce T. and Laurie S.


Upcoming Events

April 14, 2018
Gilbert, Arizona

April 21st, 2018
General Conference
Indianapolis, Indiana

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Is It Worth Trying Or Should I Run?

Question: I have recently learned that my Christian husband of 36 years has been visiting strip clubs and massage parlors for years. He also has developed a problem with alcohol. His job requires him to travel and is gone for a few weeks at a time, so this has been easy for him to hide.

I am learning a lot about “covert narcissism” and he definitely has these traits. I am wondering if there is hope for healing and deliverance, or if I need to cut my losses and “run for the hills” as much of the literature advises. He has come clean “with everything” (per his reports) and has even offered to tell others, while I am present, about his behaviors.

I would appreciate any thoughts you might have.

Answer: I’m so sorry that this has happened in your marriage. Betrayal is one of the worst things anyone has to deal with. Discovering that your husband has a whole secret life is devastating and disorientating. You feel like you don’t know who he is. You don’t trust what he’s told you about anything now that you’ve discovered he is such a good deceiver and pretender. Your whole marriage feels like it is unraveling.

How did you find out? Did he confess this or did you stumble upon it?

When someone is caught in a chronic addiction pattern as your husband has been in for 36 years, these types of people do display many of the traits of narcissism – covert and overt. There is minimizing, denial, lying, extreme selfishness, and gaslighting. They don’t want to be found out so they do whatever it takes to make you doubt yourself and not trust your own perceptions of what is wrong.

What Other People Are Saying About
Leslie's Moving Beyond People Pleasing Video Class

“I was able to find greater peace about where I've been and where I'm headed due to this course. Don't doubt myself as much when my husband tries to bully me. More sure of me. Continuing with Conquer to stay connected and continue to grow. I don't have a plan laid out for my marriage's future. But it is dead, if ever a marriage were dead. I feel quite ‘done'. I don't have the heart to approach him about trying counseling. I know God has a good future and plan for me and it is unfolding everyday even if I can't see around the next bend in the road. Thank you for serving God and us Leslie-you are a great blessing.”

– Class participant


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