People-Pleasing + Passivity = Overcommitment

Yesterday, we talked about letting life get too loud for quiet time due to underestimating the time a responsibility will take.

Today, lets look at two more reasons we crowd our calendars and have trouble getting everything accomplished; why we are resentful at the tasks we are doing (when….ahem….it seems others aren’t carrying their weight in the “doing” department).

I see two.

The first, (touched on by some of you in your comments yesterday) People pleasing.

We let the word “yes” roll off of our tongues without missing a beat; we sign up to help or volunteer to cook or make room for another outside commitment all because we are addicted to the approval of others.

Can I get an “Amen”?

Some of us will readily admit it. I am one such person. Yep, it is true. I want to be known as helpful, willing and capable.

It has caused me great heartache. Not only because I say “yes” too much and kick into overload but because when I do listen to God telling me to say “no” and do so, I disappoint people; make them mad. Then, well they go on and find another person who will say “yes” and I get left in the dust.

However, if someone just wants me as a friend so I will “do” and cares not for us just “being”, well then, do I really want them as a friend in the first place?

People-pleasing is a snare. It causes stress and tempts us to put our family behind others. You know, sign up to take a five course meal to another family who just had a baby or illness or death and then that night feed our own family leftovers or lunch meat sandwiches on stale bread.

Ouch! (Been there. Fed that.)

We have GOT to get to the place where we care more about obeying God than pleasing people. So, if through your walk with Him, He has clearly shown you that you are overcommitted and have no wiggle room available to take on one more thing, then politely decline and DO NOT FEEL GUILTY! (talkin’ to myself on that one!)

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25 that, “The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected.” (HCSB)

What a word picture! Ever been tripped up in life, caught in a snare, all because you feared what someone would think of you if you said “no”?

We need to focus on the second half of that verse. If we trust in God, we will be protected. Our time will be protected. Our hearts and emotions will be protected.

Fear God, not man. (Or, in most cases, woman!)

Another reason we get overloaded?


My husband is pretty intentional not to get over-loaded with commitments. Sometimes, I wish I were more like him.

He is a low-to-medium capacity person who operates best with lots of down time. He is energized by being alone.

I am a high-capacity person who works best when I have at least some tasks in my day. (If faced with a day with no appointments, I can procrastinate and waste time rather than use the free-time wisely) I am energized by being with people.

Todd, when listening to me lament over the years at the times I was stretched too thin, says a very wise thing, “Karen, if you aren’t intentional to fill your time, there are dozens of people out there waiting to fill it for you!”

How true! When we are passive we are easily talked into filling our time with someone else’s agenda for us, not God’s plans for us. We need to stop.

Instead, we must get our marching orders from God and then follow them without apologizing or over-explaining ourselves. (my big flaw!)

As I said last night on Twitter, “You don’t need that person’s permission to do God’s will. Now, stop worrying what their response will be an go obey Him!!!”

Okay– your turn. Do you see these two reasons—-people-pleasing and passivity—-come into play when a gal is overcommitted? How so?


  1. I can not believe this is ME when I’ve always “prided” myself (also a flaw) in not being like this and especially a people pleaser!! What hit me was that we want people to think of us as willing and helpful people!! I totally do that!!! Wonderful post! I’m passing it on!!


  2. Oh My Goodness….this has hit my nail on its head. I am so much a people pleaser and want to make everyone around me happy…even at the expense of myself and time. I so need to listen to God and order my steps according to His will and not my to-do-people-pleasing list. My hubby is very much like your Todd and I am very much like you. It is so nice to hear a real person tell things in real language….so many people pretend to be something or someone else. Thank you for sharing on this and helping me to realize that I can say NO and not feel guilty.

    May you be blessed because you are a blessing to someone today…

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Robin :)

  3. Insecurity was the main reason that I have been a people pleaser…to be honest another reason I “stay” busy “helping” others….If I have issues that I don’t want to face up to….staying busy is my rationalization and justification for avoiding what’s on my plate. It doesn’t work. Since I now stop and have morning visits and conversations with God and journal those conversations, I have more clarity and PEACE..the stress level is way down. I feel lifted and carried to where He wants me to go..For the most part this has made all the difference, however, there are days when I get ahead of Him and come crashing down..Thankfully He is there to pick me up.

  4. I am so much a people pleaser and even more passive! At least, I was until I had a stroke and God remade my personality! I tend to overcommit myself and then to have my family take a back seat to my commitments. I have started saying no more often and sometimes, not even feeling guilty about it!

  5. I didn’t even have to say “yes” to making cupcakes for my boy’s writing club because the teacher already had been used to my “yes” frequently so the teacher went ahead and told the class to expect cupcakes from me this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The other thing about people pleasing I do not like when it comes to school….nearly every holiday, events, appreciation week, etc, I get email from homeroom parent saying to fetch up money for collection on gifts for teacher. I barely can afford it all the time, and I am faced with them letting the whole class know who do and do not fetch up money. This is where I am snared by them!!!!!!

  6. Wow! Reading through the comments, it is amazing how many of us suffer with the same maladies – control freaks and people pleasers. My prayer is going to be, “Please, Lord, let us all learn this lesson, once and for all, to remember You are in control, and we need only to please You.” In Jesus Name, Amen. This lesson today was totally for me. Thank you.

  7. I have mastered saying “no” quite well but not feeling guilty??? Ah, that is a different story. Why do we girls beat ourselves up so much?

  8. When you said “I am a high-capacity person who works best when I have at least some tasks in my day. (If faced with a day with no appointments, I can procrastinate and waste time rather than use the free-time wisely) I am energized by being with people.” WOW, this is me to a tee. I wish I could be more proactive than reactive. It is almost as if I need that pressure that I put on myself that I have to get this done because I wont have time later and with out it I tend to grow roots and get nothing done.

  9. I read this early this morning and it was a great reminder for me! Sometimes it is so hard to disappoint people when you’re protecting yourself, your family, and your time.

  10. Karen, that was so full of WISDOM with the UNDERSTANDING of just how we get get so caught in a web!! For myself, when I finally accepted me as I am……..not to please others and even myself, but to please Jesus with my time for Him!!! That means more time in the word. When I got the understanding that a lot of things I was doing was totally robbing me of peace and quite times with God and myself then I learned to say NO!!! A lot of that could be that I’m older and really don’t care what others think of me…so freeing!! THE WORD WILL SET YOU FREE!!!!

  11. So true!! I know I am such a people pleaser too and the analogy of bringing a meal to another family and then feeding my family “take-out fast food” rings a bell. I have to learn to say NO and put God first in all this busyness and commitments. Thank you for the reminder!

  12. Bingo Karen! My thoughts entirely and my personal discovery! My husband also is a wise man, and said much the same as yours. There will always be people with needs. But God put me in the place of responcibility for two children, a husband and mother that I was caregiver to. God opened my eyes to the realization that these were ‘my’ people with needs, my priority, and my place of service. So I learned to say. “I’m sorry, No”, when asked to take on more than I knew I should and to pray, look and listen for low key ways to ‘help’ when I was led by the Spirit. A wonderful book that addresses these two issues you are discussing today Karen is ‘Boundaries’ When to Say YES, When to Say NO To Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. (Zondervan). I am finally free from the Overcommitment that held me in a place of bondage! Amen! :)

  13. I love the above comment about PRIDE…but I’d take it a step further – not just pride that we are creative, organized women that can get the job done (even if we aren’t!), but that WE THINK WE CAN DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. “I have to chair that committee again – it was our most successful year ever” “the kids are so much more involved in the class when I’m teaching Sunday School” “nothing will get done if I don’t step in and lead the way”. Umm..really? I will readily admit (now) that this is a stuggle for me. I am definitely a jack-of-all trades – good at details, love to teach, creative to a fault, love to cook…but this leads to ‘master of none’. Still a work-in-progress!

    1. Amen to that! And no matter how difficult it is….we need to be (I’ve been working on this) affirming of those who have said yes to things we’ve said no to. Nothing like downplaying or judging another’s efforts to scare them away from stepping up ever again……and then complain that no one else gets involved! hmmmm!
      Thanks Kathleen!

  14. Amen…Amen…and Amen to pretty much everything you’ve said. Are you sure we weren’t separated at birth???
    “I want to be known as helpful, willing and capable.” Amen!
    “If we trust in God, we will be protected. Our time will be protected. Our hearts and emotions will be protected.” Amen!
    “I am energized by being with people.” Amen!
    “we must get our marching orders from God and then follow them without apologizing or over-explaining ourselves. (my big flaw!)” Amen!
    “Then, well they go on and find another person who will say “yes” and I get left in the dust.” Amen and Ouch!!
    Definitely struggle with approval of man…Praise God, less so than years ago. But I have regrets…I was running around, over stressed, over committed, and over invested in what people thought of me, whether or not they liked me, admired me, thought of me at all, included me. I paid the price of being exhausted and prone to exploding and so did my beloved family.
    I would love to hear more about how you get your marching orders from God, Karen. How do you best know you’ve got His mark of approval on the things you’ve said yes to?

  15. A couple of years ago, I read: John Ortman’s: The Life You’ve Always Wanted. He has one section on “approval addiction.” I was floored by all of the silly ways I was addicted (and still struggle) with seeking approval. During that time, I went on a “fast.” I consciously eliminated the little excuses, explanations, exaggerations…etc. that would creep their way into my conversations. Let me tell you, I became quieter, a better listener, cared more for others and I was more confident when I spoke because it was honest, pure and I sought only God’s approval with every word I spoke. Thank you for your thoughts today. It reminded me of that time and how I want to have that again and make it last. :o)

  16. Straight to my heart…and mind! I think we “control type”s may really need to be more intentional about this. A study we recently went through at church pointed out that part of this issue (or what is ussually at the roots of this) is a sense of PRIDE! I appreciate that you mention the care of how others think of us is so driving (and often well disguised)……we all want to be effective, responsible, creative ladies……nothing wrong with wanting to be that for GOD, but so often, as you said, we get caught in that snare! And it is a yucky one! And one that keeps popping up even after we’ve experienced the victory/rewards of saying “no” or turning away from an opportunity. One thing that I’ve found helpful, is to limit my role up front with whoever is asking for my help(even or especially when they want to rely heavily on my talent)….right up front, I’ve learned to ask myself “Can I really commit the emotional, logistical energy and time that is really required for me to do this the way I would like to see it done?” If I can’t make that sacrifice (and by default, ahve my family make it as well) at that time, I’ve learned to share that with the one who’s requesting my help. It’s important to verbalize with clarity! “I’m sorry, but at this time, I can’t make the committment to head up this project. I will be happy to help out in this way_____ ” or if you must decline, altogether, do so! Be sure that the “help” is something FINITE that doesn’t require planning or follow up or “hidden” expectations). If you are able to reply in a timely manner, it is often received with more understanding…..if you find that it takes to much contemplation, that should be a large red flag to say a prayer, examine your heart, bite the bullet and pick up the phone!

  17. Wow…must be in a name but I am totally your personality and my man is your Todd! I love the “high-capacity” description in that is totally what i do when I’m not tasking. It’s all or nothing!! Thanks for these words of wisdom to help me stop tasking and start listening to God’s instruction and obey him. I am doing much better in the last few years about saying “no”. It only took about 5 times of forgetting to take that meal to someone that made me finally take my name off that committee!! :)

  18. AMEN! Passivity is definitely one that struck a chord in my book. Thank you so much for the insight! I am definitely going to be intentional about how I fill my down time. Truly listening to GOD and doing what HE says will definitely change how my time is spent! Thank you again for your nuggets of wisdom!

  19. Definitely a big AMEN! I would say both reasons come in to play, although I cannot add to what you have already stated so eloquently! You say you were talking to yourself on some, but oh boy did that ALL speak to my heart!! Thank you Karen!

  20. Ouch! And, thank you! My daughter and I are following your posts. After yesterday she and I have decided to ‘do’ a Bible study together. She inherited her procrastination/over commitment from me. We are going to keep each other accountable. Thank you so much for letting us see that you are ‘real’.

  21. In the past few years, I’ve learned how to say “no” a little more and it has helped my entire family tremendously! There are still those people-pleasing moments though. Thanks for the reminder that trusting in HIM is our aim. Even when His Spirit whispers “Just say no.”

  22. AMAZING …this post was meant for me lol…..I love where you say,”We must get our marching orders from God” AMEN and AMEN thank Karen I am very convicted great reminder we so often need!!

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