Many of us are guilty of being people pleasing! When we knew deep down it was not what God wanted? We all begin down the road of People Pleasing with pure motives. No one starts out by saying, “I’m going to choose the will of other people over God’s will for me!” It grows little by little, decision by decision. And often by the tyme we realize what we are dealing with, we don’t know how to break free.
Here are a few characteristics of a pleaser of the people. Over-thinking what you’ll say. Worried about what you’ve already said. Not wanting to step on anyone’s toes. Trying to accommodate every living soul. Re-arranging plans. Telling people what they want to hear. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-5 (NIV)
Worried about what others think of you. See what I mean? It’ll wear you out! Let’s call it what it is. Usually we are afraid of how people will react to what we have to say. Will it cause conflict? Most of us hate conflict with a passion. We run from it. So we soften our words with ambiguity.
Let me just start by saying that I’m not a saint by any stretch, I’m a recovering People Pleaser. Some people call it Approval Addiction. Others would dub it “The Disease to Please.” Now that I’m free, & I just call it “bondage.” One of the great misconceptions among people pleasers is this idea that we’re ‘good people’ who are just trying to make everybody happy. The fact is, when we try to please everybody, we end up pleasing nobody. I got tired from the burnout that came from the over extension of myself and frustrated. I quickly became ineffective in helping others and often tymes end up resenting everyone around me. And now that I’m being honest with myself, it was mostly no one else fault but my own!
My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by people who love me very much—people who care deeply about my decisions and their outcomes. People whom I admire and respect greatly: family, friends and church leaders. Sounds great, right? Well, it was, for a while. I was one who never liked the looks or the tones I received when I had to tell people “no,” even about small things. I didn’t like to think I let people down in any way. So I said “yes” a lot—I said “yes” to everything anyone asked me to, even when I didn’t want to. I thought I was obeying God’s word by serving everyone.
Over the years, I continued to say yes. I was scared to tell people no. And as a result, I became very tired. And very stressed. And very conflicted. And very resentful. I was a full-blown Approval Addict. I always score as a ENTJ type personality. But I always saw myself as an ENFP. I now see that being a people pleasing is in itself essentially a form of selfishness, but it’s easy to hide behind so called good motives than admit that I am a complete control freak.
“In the way that God chooses to lead His ministry is often at tymes difficult for us to get our arms around. Finding direction in the corporate world comes somewhat easier. There’s a clearly stated bottom line, shareholders to report to, and defined markets that guide company decisions. We serve a Head we cannot see, and we listen to a voice we cannot literally hear. Often we feel as if we’re being asked to follow a plan we do not understand.
…during the process of discovering God’s leading, we are subject to enormous changes. These are changes we must embrace in the power of the Spirit if we are to obey our Lord’s lead. Though we are accountable to the churches we serve, ultimately, each one of God’s servants answers to God. Without that sort of single-minded devotion to the Lord, we run the risk of becoming people-pleasers. Christian leaders who become pawns as they focus on pleasing people are pathetic wimps!” Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
Obedience always stimulates growth. Obeying God drives the roots of your faith much deeper. We’re stretched emotionally, often physically, but most importantly, spiritually. We all know this is true in the rational part of our minds- “Well sure, it’d be impossible to please everybody all the tyme, right?” Yet I think a lot of us can get caught up in the more emotional response of “but I still really want everyone to like me/agree with me/support me!” And that’s when we can get ourselves into a bit of a pickle.
*As individuals, we all have our own personal flavor. Some are sweet, some salty and others plain maybe bitter. But as a people pleaser, because of our skill of going with the flow at all costs, we lose our flavor all together. We try to blend with every personality we come in contact with and as a result our own personality fades. Like the picture on a old TV screen. “Non LCD!” What makes you, YOU, is your own blend of Yes’s and No’s. It’s our beliefs and values and preferences that give us our spice. Lose this and you lose yourself in the process. Before long, you end up forgetting what God has made you all about. This can be a scary realization and one that should be harnessed to help push us out of our people pleasing ways and back to God pleasing.
In the end, with much struggle, prayer & fasting I had a revelation! I decided I had to RISK IT ALL! The possible loss of reputation and respect of my church family and cling like crazy to what my Father was telling my spirit to do. God met my wife and me there, guided us through the uncertainty, fear, and rejection, and dumped a ton of grace and blessing into our lives. I knew I hurt some people in the process—a lot of them told us so!—but God reassured us repeatedly it was most important to please HIM.
Rather than being a warrior for the King, it is easy to become an insecure wimp, relying on human opinions and longing for human approval. By His grace I won’t go back there again. This is MY attempt to proactively help others by hopefully sharing thoughts that are helpful in their journey to regain their personal freedom. My responsibility is to deliver what God has anointed me with. As I do, that truth hits me with the same authority as it does the folks with whom I communicate. May God deliver every honest pastor, every truth-seeking church leader, and every Christian from the bondage of pleasing people. And place light to your path of Pleasing God!
*Resource: Eric Hamm The Essential Motivation Handbook