People-Pleasing Messes With Our Heads!
There are times when I am walking around brooding and on the verge of tears about something of which I am not even aware. This may sound crazy to you…
…but I stop and ask myself, “What are you upset about?” Then I can usually pull back the layers of emotion and get to what is going on in my head. Most of the time, I am upset about something I said or something I did and what someone else will think.
Last time, I confessed to being a people-pleaser, but I am not happy with that condition. Being a people-pleaser is a miserable way to live! Especially for a Christian!
What People-Pleasing Does to Us Emotionally
It tears us down in a way that is indefensible because we are constantly aiming at moving targets and failing. We will never win aiming at those targets for several reasons:
- You never know when what they want is going to change.
- They do not always ready to validate you because they are busy trying to please someone else.
- We were not created to please people.
No Place for It
We were created to please God. As Christians, our sole purpose is to live for Christ, so there is no place for people-pleasing in our lives. That being said, it is time for me to move out of people-pleasing and into Christ-pleasing. How about you?
Little Problem or Big Problem
I have been counseling with our pastor a couple of times a month for a few months and he has helped me to realize that I do not have a small problem with people-pleasing. I have a big problem with it. It has crept into and affected every area of my life. It has taken me to a place I do not want to go, the place being extremely anxious.
Fear of Man
The Bible calls people-pleasing the fear of man.
A lot of our people-pleasing/fear of man comes from insecurity. We feel we need to be validated by another human being to be valid. But for people who have been made heirs to God Himself by the work of Christ, is that true?
Absolutely not! Our validity, our worth, and our righteousness are all in Christ alone!
We do not tend to see people-pleasing at its face value, do we? We see bits of it at a time but rarely, do we see the whole picture – what it is doing to us, what it is doing to our relationships with others, and most importantly, what it is doing to our relationship with Christ.
Proverbs 29:25 ESV
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”
“The fear of man lays a snare…”
A Hidden Trap
I remember on Gilligan’s Island how traps would be set in the jungle by laying the trap and then hiding it with leaves and branches. The target walked into the hidden trap and was caught before he knew what was happening.
That’s how the fear of man/people-pleasing is. You walk up on it and before you know it, you are caught – and worrying about what someone thinks of you.
Wanting People to Think Well of Me
Among Christians, I know I/we have a desire to be well thought of by other people – for the glory of God. It is very easy to slide across the line into people-pleasing, especially in this society that has such a varied view of what love is and tries to pressure us into using their definition. God’s definition of love is quite different from society’s, though, and as believers, we answer to Him so we have to be aware of the line.
Let’s finish up the verse now:
“…but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”
Notice the choice of words here.
The Amplified Bible says:
“…but whoever leans on, trusts and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.”
These two parts of this verse are on opposite ends of the same scale.
Fear of Man <———————————————————> Trusting God
To me, this is indicating that operating in the fear of man/people-pleasing is putting our trust in those men to give us that validation that we crave.
Trusting in the Lord is putting our confidence in Him for our validation. He is really the only one whose opinion of us matters. To carry this idea a little further, trusting the Lord is also fearing the Lord, which as you know is the beginning of wisdom! (Psalm 111:10)
Bondage to Freedom
Living under the fear of man is bondage, pure and simple. It is stifling and oppressive. Living in the fear of the Lord is freedom – you can just breathe easier and live in His love, peace, and acceptance!
How can we live and even rest in His acceptance? This is what I am doing:
- Ask Him to help me know Him better so I can trust Him more.
- Work to know Him better by actively seeking Him more in His Word.
- Seek Him in prayer and ask Him to help me to focus all my “pleasing” on Him.
- Ask Him to help me love Him more completely so that He is my automatic focus.
- Know that it is His work, the Holy Spirit. I cannot do this work for myself. He sanctifies me and makes me more like Jesus.
We Know This
We are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and when God looks at us He sees His sinless perfect child. He is not fooled. He knows we have not made it to sinless perfection but because Jesus has wrapped us in His robe of righteousness, we are positionally perfect and sinless. God knows we are still a work in progress and He lovingly works on us day by day. (Isaiah 61:10, John 17:17)
Things to Ponder:
- Is people-pleasing a small problem for you, or is it a big problem?
- How does people-pleasing mess with your head? Hopelessness, anxiety, depression, anger…
- How does people-pleasing mess with your relationships with other people? with God?
Go Deeper Today: