When I was growing up in rural Arkansas, my dad owned a general store. It wasn’t an impressive place, but it offered most of the things people needed.

It sat just up the road from our house. Every day at noon Dad walked home for lunch.

I don’t know that “hours of operation” were ever posted, but everyone knew when the store was open.

One old man always wanted to shop between noon and one o’clock.

He did not drive to the store because he knew the store was closed.

He drove to our house, where Dad was eating lunch.

The man didn’t park on the side of the road by our house. (We had no driveway.)

He drove his old-timey, heavy, black car up to the verge of our yard. There he sat, scowling, and waiting for Dad to come out and open the store especially for him.

From behind our living room curtains, my siblings and I watched him: an angry old man sitting in our front yard, inside a gangster car, its shiny grill aimed right at our front porch.

We kids knew (and the old grouch knew) Dad would not be intimidated.

After he finished his lunch, Dad walked back to the store, with the black car trailing him.

Dad didn’t feel obliged to meet unreasonable expectations of others. He was not a people pleaser.

For years, I had trouble refusing any request.

Early in our marriage, when Dan and I had almost no excess money, I opened the front door one day to a lightbulb salesman.

This man was selling lightbulbs guaranteed to last forever.

“These bulbs will never burn out,” he said.

I bought a box of five for $25.

I didn’t want or need the lightbulbs, but I could not find the courage to say no to the salesman.

Dan came home soon afterward. When I told him what I had done, he got back into his car, carrying the box of lightbulbs. He found the salesman, who was still peddling in the neighborhood.

Dan retrieved my $25 check and gave the lightbulbs back to the seller.

I simply have trouble telling people no.

Back when friends had parties for the purpose of selling cookware, wall art, makeup, vitamins, and the like, I went when I was invited.

I never wanted to go. Usually I found the least expensive item for sale and bought it.

I went to those parties simply to be nice.

I want to be nice, and you probably do too.

But recognize the difference between being nice and being a people pleaser.

When I am nice, my concern is for the other person. That reflects kindness.

When I am a people pleaser, my concern is for my own image. That reflects selfishness.

According to an article I found at, being a people pleaser leads to unhealthy consequences.

  • People use you.
  • You suppress far too much.
  • Nobody will ever know the true you.
  • You have extreme pressure to keep up appearances.
  • You become a control freak.

Jesus’ concern was always for others. But a people pleaser, Jesus was not.

He spoke the truth. He carried out His God-given mission. He was not interested in being popular or enabling people to be selfish.

My mission is to serve God and other people.

This means I should say no when saying yes is harmful to the other person.

I should say no when the other person’s expectations are unreasonable.

And this is the hard one. I should say no when I am tempted to say yes simply to be a people pleaser.

21 thoughts on “NO”

  1. Debbie I think it is hard to say no because we were taught to be kind, helpful and respectful. I hate confrontation and saying no can cause confrontations so it’s much easier to say yes. I never looked at it as being selfish, thank you for that perspective.

    1. Pam, this is one of those blog posts I would like to amend. I should have included some of the things you said about “hating confrontation.” I do my best proofreading after I hit “Publish.”

  2. This is one of your best posts, in my opinion. Thank you for the great advice! Also, how do you think Daddy learned to keep his cool and not be intimidated?! I missed that lesson somewhere along the line.

  3. Saying no is very hard! I struggle with this all the time. I am a people-pleaser for sure. I am working on it and this actually gives me some good insight into the difference between when I’m just tying to maintain my image versus when I’m actually being nice. God Bless!

    1. Hello, Online Friend, I can’t recall if I’ve responded to this comment or not. This particular post is one I would like to “amend.” I do my best proofreading after I  hit “Publish.”  Anyway, it stands as I posted it. Investigating our motives is always hard. I want mine to be pure, but I know sometimes they aren’t. I don’t even know your name Rosesatdawn, but I love your heart. Debbie

      1. Self-reflection is never an easy thing. It’s something I have a tendency to avoid 🙂 I have found that as I get “older” I am doing more of it. I always enjoy your posts, even if I don’t always comment. They always give me something to ponder. (P.S. I like anonymity (read introvert) and am nervous about giving out personal info online. I have told only about three or four of my closest friends/family members about the fact that I even have a blog, lol) God Bless!

      2. I respect your wish for anonymity! I don’t post photos of my family on FB. I’m amazed (and disappointed) by the things some people choose to share!

        Sent from my iPhone


  4. I’m right there with you, but in my old age and sense that time is more important now than ever, I’m learning to say “No.” But nicely:)

  5. Enjoying your blog Debbie from sunny NC. About aging –read nkjv-/Psalm 92. Some days I feel like an eagle soaring when I bathe in the Psalms.Will I see you on December 11? Lorraine Richardson

  6. So well stated, Debbie. I have always had trouble with this. And I think you have differentiated the difference so well. I just need to keep Jesus in mind the next time I struggle in this area.

    1. Well, Becky, this is a piece I have rethought since posting it and would like to make some amendments to it. (I do my best proofreading after hitting “Publish.”

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