What does the Bible say about people-pleasing

An Open Letter to Burnt Out People-Pleasers

My friend, I’ve had a burden on my heart. I know this may be hard to hear, but I love you too much to stay quiet anymore. 

You take care of everyone but yourself, and it hurts me to see you worn out. 

I know you love Jesus and you love people. And He taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. He even said that what we do to the least of His people, we do also to Him. 

I know you want to be His hands and feet. Especially as a woman, it’s hard to say no when people ask for help. It feels so cold to turn your back when someone needs you. 

5 Ways Jesus Set Limits on People-Pleasing Click To Tweet

What Does the Bible Say About People-Pleasing?

We all dream of hearing “well done my good and faithful servant, ” but my friend, even Jesus had limits.

In love, I offer a few examples from His ministry as permission for you to find freedom and rest.   

5 Ways Jesus Set Limits on People-Pleasing

5 Ways Jesus Set Limits on People-Pleasing

1.) Jesus Set Boundaries. 

He helped those who believed in Him and walked away from agenda-laden demands. 

People in Jesus’ hometown rejected Him when He began preaching. He helped very few people in Nazareth because of their lack of faith. 

Later in His ministry, Jesus refused to heal when the crowds demanded a sign that He was the messiah.

2.) Jesus Said “No”

Jesus didn’t help everyone when it was time to move on. The disciples told Jesus that people in Capernaum were looking for Him after He’d healed Simon’s mother. Instead, Jesus left Judea because He came to preach there too.

3.) He Asked for Help

When word about Jesus spread, crowds of tens of thousands followed Him. As a human, He couldn’t do it all by Himself so He appointed the disciples to preach.

4.) He Made People Help Themselves

The blind man had to wash. The crippled man had to pick up his mat.

Jesus didn’t need their cooperation to perform a miracle. He wanted them to help themselves instead of being passive recipients.

5.) He Took Time Alone & To Focus on Those Closest to Him

Jesus retreated to the mountains to pray. He also had many private moments with His disciples. 

5 Scriptures to help you focus on pleasing God, not man. Click To Tweet

How to Find Rest People-Pleasing with God’s Help

So what’s a loving daughter of Christ to do when someone asks for help? When do you say “no”?

Ask God for His will in prayer.

And if you’re wondering just what does the Bible say about people-pleasing, I offer five Scriptures to help you.

What does the Bible say about people-pleasing? Check out these five Bible verses about pleasing God, not man...

5 Scriptures to Focus on Pleasing God, Not Man

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

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Proverbs 29:25

On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

Psalm 118:8

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ephesians 5:17

Dear one, you have such a beautiful heart. I pray you will find rest in those who want what’s best for you, regardless of what’s in it for them. 

Join The Conversation About The Bible & People-Pleasing

Your turn: Are you a people-pleaser? How can you find freedom today?

What does the Bible say about people-pleasing? Find out in this post on Candidly Christian. Click To Tweet

If you liked this blog post, you’ll also love our anthology, Candid Conversations. While each story shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that while we all struggle, there is hope to be found in Jesus. Get your copy from Amazon or click here to learn more.

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  1. I absolutely love this post. I believe one of the enemy’s strongest and most dangerous tactics is to wear us out doing the ‘right thing.’ So often we think that in order to be pleasing to God, we can’t say no. Surely God would say yes? Yet the truth is that our Father wants us to spend TIME with Him. If we only have time for busyness, our relationship with Him suffers the most. It’s a win for Satan. No time with God equals an empty shell of an existence. Spending time soaking in the Presence of the Lord is the only place safety, security and true freedom comes. Our healing is found in our time with the Father. Our Truth is found in Him and with Him. Busyness robs us of all of it. The least selfish thing we can do is say no. It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha.

    I love your Scripture references as well. What a beautiful reminder this post is. Thank you, sis! ♥

  2. The enemy will use whatever distraction he can to distance us from our Father, including “good” things, because, as you mentioned, good things still take us away from the “best” thing – which is to be at His feet. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Holly, and thanks so much for your heartfelt words. I kind of felt like standing up and applauding by the time I got to the end of your comments!

  3. Valerie, this was great. I’m a recovering people-pleaser. I kind of see it as the “thorn in my flesh” (one of several!) that keeps me coming back to God for help, wisdom and guidance on a regular basis! Thanks for the timely message, wise words and great scriptures, I’m going to reference them regularly!!?

  4. Great post Valerie!
    I had been pondering this subject to write about too! So God has a theme going 😉
    As women we do exhaust ourselves in helping others…we need to be wiser!
    Bless you,

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I hope you do write about this subject, as I’m sure your view or your words will impact someone differently than mine. If you do write it, I hope you will share it with me. I always enjoy your posts so much 🙂

  5. I totally feel like this is directed right at me. I cannot say no to my family, even when their toxic behavior affects my mental health. A lot of the reason I keep to myself is because I felt like too much was asked of me, unrealistically. I’m definitely going to delve more into these scriptures so I can find a healthy balance.

    1. I’m glad the post spoke to you, Jen. I pray that recognizing this and diving in Scripture will be the beginning of finding boundaries. I totally get how that’s even harder when it comes to family, so I hope taking your questions and uncertainties to Jesus in prayer in your heart and in journaling will help give you direction.

  6. This is such a gracious letter to help people set better boundaries for themselves and learn to say no. Every ‘no’ to one thing is a ‘yes’ to something else!

  7. Valerie – I loved this post. It is an area I do struggle with but have made great strides. However, it is so easy to fall back into it especially when the other person is hurting. I repeat to myself over and over again – Jesus didn’t heal everyone. I love your examples. I have shared your post. I am starting a series on “Letting Go,” and this will be one of the topics to address.

    1. Hi Maree, I’m glad this post spoke to you. It seems that a lot of women continue to struggle with this throughout their lives. It’s so hard to discern when to help vs when you’re just being taken advantage of or wearing yourself out. I’m glad these examples were a good reminder that even Jesus said no. And I can’t wait to see your series! I know it will be amazing! Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting 🙂

  8. Great post, Valerie. I was hoping you would note Galatians 1:10. I memorized it years ago and refer to it often when I’m talking to others or need to remind my own heart. I love how you make the points, Jesus said no and He retreated to be alone with the Father.

  9. Unfortunately, people-pleasing is a thing amongst Christians especially women because many believe it makes them a “good” Christian, however, Jesus said NO, he set boundaries and he walked away.

    1. I love your post, Yvonne, as it ties in perfectly with mine. So many women get caught in toxic relationships trying to be a “good Christian”. It sounds like “When to Walk Away” by Gary Thomas is a perfect book for people pleasers to begin finding freedom.

  10. Valerie, I love how you point out that Jesus made people help themselves. The power to heal obviously came from him alone, but He gave them an opportunity to participate in the miracle. I’m like you in that I wouldn’t call myself a people pleaser either, but this is a wonderful post!

  11. Hi Lois, I’m so glad that you noticed something about Jesus from this post even though you wouldn’t call yourself a people pleaser. Yesterday our pastor talked about how Jesus loves us enough to let us be active, choosing participants in our relationship with Him instead of just exercising the authority to control everything like He could. It never ceases to amaze me to see how much He loves us. So glad you visited, Lois!

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