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Q&A: How Do I Help Others Without Letting Them Take Advantage of Me?

Question:

I’m a kind person and I always want to help other people, but sometimes they take advantage of me. How can I show the love of Christ by helping others without letting them take advantage?

Answer:

Thanks so much for asking this question! There are many Christians who struggle with this, myself included at times. We want to be like Jesus and show love and compassion toward everyone, but we also want to be treated appropriately and not have our kindness abused.

I used to think that in order to please God, I always had to sacrifice, so I had a hard time saying “no” to people. I thought that demonstrating the love of Jesus meant I had to give without limits so others could have their desires met, even if it meant I was left feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. However, since then I’ve learned this:

Being a Christian does NOT mean being a doormat.

Consider Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was kind, forgiving and loving toward everyone–but He also held people accountable for their behavior. When He was ministering to the needs of the people, He stood up for Himself against the Pharisees. This is in part what made them so mad at Jesus. Jesus never tried to “get back” at them, but He was vocal and set clear boundaries.

Since we’re supposed to be like Jesus in our daily walk in this world, it makes sense that we also should be setting limits with others!

Here are four ways to get started:

  • Know your own limits. If you’re unable to do something for someone for whatever reason, understand that it’s okay. Politely explain to the person that as much as you’d like to help, you simply can’t do it right now. If you want, you could offer your assistance at a later time.
  •  Recognize draining people. Unfortunately, there are people who make it a habit to use others. When you see this occurring, put some distance between yourself and that person. Whether it’s a classmate, cousin, frenemy, or peer, it’s not healthy to let others use you. When you recognize this pattern in people, begin to limit your time around them. If they ask you why, tell them in a kind and loving way.
  • Remind yourself that you’re important, too! Sometimes people who are big givers are trying too hard to please others. It’s important to remember that you’re absolutely FABULOUS and you don’t have to give excessively to others to make them like you. Don’t ever forget your own worth.
  • Ignore negativity. When you start putting up boundaries, people who are used to getting their way will likely get upset. They may even start saying things like, “I thought you were a Christian!” Keep reminding yourself that God wants you to love others, but He doesn’t want you to allow others to treat you poorly. If you allow that, not only are you hurting yourself, but you’re doing a disservice to those people as well. Using people is not Godly, so how will they ever learn to be Godly themselves if you don’t hold them accountable?

Remember, people who are givers by nature naturally draw people who are takers by nature. It’s your responsibility to show the light of Christ by helping others, but you shouldn’t feel bad about putting up boundaries. After all, you deserve to be respected!

Written by Aysha Ives

Image: Thinkstock | istockphoto

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14 Comments

  1. Project Inspired

    Posted by Naomy on April 21, 2014 at 05:53

    Thx this helped alot this girl actually said “I thought you were a Christian!” We’ll ik I am but I’m not your door Matt !!!! Thx

  2. Deeblves3

    Posted by Deeblves3 on May 26, 2012 at 21:36

    Very Good article! This clears things up so much better!

  3. Project Inspired

    Posted by BabyDoll on April 17, 2012 at 20:27

    Woah-ho-hoo!! I needed THIS!!
    I will be ready to go forth with this tomorrow<3 thaaaanks dahling ~*^.^*~

  4. Project Inspired

    Posted by sweet on April 15, 2012 at 14:43

    This is sooo very helpful for me and others, Thank You Sooo very much for bringing it up 🙂

  5. Project Inspired

    Posted by 101magster on April 7, 2012 at 13:53

    this was very helpful. my problem is that I always want to give money or a meal or something to homeless people I see out on the streets in cities, but I know they might not be actually poor and some just spend the money on alcohol or drugs

  6. Project Inspired

    Posted by meeko228 on April 6, 2012 at 12:19

    Wow, this is great! I feel like this a lot; I’m always trying to please people and I sometimes forget about keeping myself happy in the process. This will definitely help me to remember myself in the future! 🙂

  7. Project Inspired

    Posted by lordslady108 on April 3, 2012 at 20:43

    That would definitely be me! I even have “friends” that just expect me to be perfect for them. I probably should have broken off some of them years ago, but I feel bad when I say something negative to someone in a bad situation. It’s really dragging me down into the depths. I have this one friend who is a huge jerk to me but she’s incredibly antisocial and homeschooled, so she doesn’t have many friends to say the least. She is always a jerk to me, but my mom thinks we’re perfect friends and she has a history of being suicidal and stuff so it’s hard to even say I don’t want to go over to her house just this once because I’m tired or busy without the whole thing blowing up in my face from like five other people. Whew, run-on sentence! Anyway, I try praying but I think God’s telling me to let someone in and to open up a little. So, yeah. I’m not really sure how to end this long, rambling thought. The End, I guess.

  8. Project Inspired

    Posted by RachelMarie on April 2, 2012 at 13:19

    Thank you! I needed this.

  9. I am a Princess

    Posted by I am a Princess on March 31, 2012 at 12:12

    I agree.

  10. Project Inspired

    Posted by georgia13 on March 30, 2012 at 14:24

    This REALLY helped me ;). Ironic too, because I have been thinking/struggling with this for awhile now.

  11. Project Inspired

    Posted by 1_artist on March 30, 2012 at 14:08

    Thanks. 🙂

  12. Project Inspired

    Posted by Romayn on March 30, 2012 at 12:06

    This is exactly what I been going through. My friend is constantly asking for my iPod charger and gives me ever excuse she has for not getting her own.Even when I charge her iPod she still doesn’t appreciate anything I do for her. I try to be nice to her but I’m at a point that the next time she asks me again, I going to snapped. what should I do ?

  13. Project Inspired

    Posted by katrinalove on March 30, 2012 at 11:37

    WOW!A really great article! This is really true. I know a few people who are Christian but they let people walk over them because they wanted to be kind. I am going to tell them about this and thank you for changing other people lives:)

  14. Champ2343

    Posted by Champ2343 on March 30, 2012 at 09:21

    Dear Aysha, thank you so much for this article! I have been struggling with this for a long time, but this article will help me out. Project Inspired is such an inspiration to me to become what God created me to be. God bless you!