Q&A: How Do I Help Others Without Letting Them Take Advantage of Me?
Written by Aysha Ives | March 30, 2012
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?
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