People pleasers are people who always do everything possible to please others around them. I think we all have a bit of this in us, I know I certainly do. On the surface is seems like a pretty harmless quality, but it can actually be a really big problem.
When we become obsessed with what other people think about us we quickly stop caring about what God thinks about us. Most of us know this on the surface, but we still struggle with living it on a day-to-day basis.
No matter how hard you try, you can never please everyone.
The problem that we face is that we want people to like us. I want people to like me. I want YOU to like me! I want people to think I am cultured, clever, creative and cool. But there is a temptation to give up my life in order to live up to the opinions of others.
Even if we realize that we can never please everyone we get caught up in trying to please as many people as we can. Or we decide there are a few specific people that we want to please and we do everything we can to please them. If we ever can’t please them then we feel like a total failure.
Guess what…you weren’t designed to please everyone!
In the book of Acts 4:16-20 we see that Peter and John had told people about God and now they are in trouble for it. They were getting punished and then told to never do it again. Many of us would walk away with our tail between our legs, but not these guys!
Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him?  We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
I need to realize that although I cannot please everyone, I CAN please God! Paul said in Galatians 1:10 that he was not trying to win anyone’s approval and that if he was just trying to please people he would not be a follower of Christ. Are you trying to please people?
When we become obsessed with what people think we forget what God thinks. Are you concerned with what people think? Do you have the disease to please?
4 Symptoms of the Disease to Please
1. Take Criticism Personally
When someone gives criticism you take it personally and start to feel like a bad human. If someone gives you negative feedback you end up feeling like a failure.
2. Fear Rejection.
You feel like if you don’t do everything just right then you won’t fit in. People won’t like you. They will reject you. You won’t be awesome like everyone else.
3. Don’t Express True Feelings
You want to tell people what you really think, but you don’t because you are afraid that it will hurt their feelings or they will think less of you. As a result you can’t make decisions because you feel like you wouldn’t be accepted. Even simple things like where to eat out makes you stop like a deer in the headlights.
4. Never Say NO!
If someone asks you to do something you always say “yes” even if you resent it deep down inside. On the surface you are nice and happy but inside you are angry and wish you never agreed to it.
People pleasers are actually addicts. They are addicted to getting approval just like a drug addict is addicted to getting high. We need to break free from this!
Here are 2 facts about people pleasers:
1. People Pleasing is Idolatry
The Third Commandment says that we should have no other gods before the one true God. But, when we give up our lives to the opinions of people and not God we are actually elevating people into the place that he should be in. We are saying that we care more about what people think than about what God thinks.
In John 12:42-43 there were some people who really wanted to follow Jesus but, like us sometimes, they weren’t willing to go public with it. We are afraid of getting criticized so we just keep quiet. We don’t want to look like a religious freak after all! The Bible says that these people loved praise from other people more than the praise of God. That is idolatry.
Do you care more about the opinions of others or the opinion of God?
A few years back I started a band with a couple of my friends. I figured that if Jesus was here today he might hang out at a bar or something, and since I am a good Christian and I don’t go to those places I figured that starting a band would be a good way to meet some people. Well, people started to talk and say things about me and my “disease to please” started to flare up, but then I realized that I wasn’t doing it to please them, I was doing it because it was what I felt God wanted me to do.
Proverbs 29:25 Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.
This trap is like a snare, or a noose that hangs around your neck to kill you.
Do I fit in? Am I cool? What do you think about me? It’s a noose! It’s a trap that will follow you for the rest of your life unless you break free from it.
Types of Traps
- I’ll Compromise for You. This happens a lot in dating relationships. One person wants more, and the other person decides to compromise. Or someone tells a dirty joke and you just chuckle along and maybe tell one of your own. We lie just a little bit for someone. We cheat just a little.
- I’ll Over-commit for You. I’ll take on more things than I should so you will think I am a good person. We never say “no” we just do whatever we are asked to do. We end up with no time for God because we are trying to live up to other people’s expectations.
- I’ll Let You Limit My Success. Maybe you feel called by God to do something great with your life. Maybe you have a vision for great things. Big dreams that you want to accomplish. The bigger your dreams are the more people will not like you. Many people get discouraged with doing great things because of what other people think. When you do great things people criticize you, misunderstand you and dislike you. That just goes with the territory. You need to love the opinion of God more than the opinion of others. If you let their opinion drive you then it will put a ceiling on whatever you hope to do in your life.
Trying to overcome this kind of idolatry is an ongoing process that we have to fight every day. I really want you to like me, but the only way for me to do what God wants me to do if to live to please him and not everyone else.
2. The Fear of God Cures the Fear of Man
If you are a people pleaser then God is too small in your life and people are too big. People’s opinions are being given too much weight.
The way to fight this is by fearing God. I know this sounds bizarre but it is true. The fear of God is having an awesome respect and reverence for the greatness and power of God.
In C.S. Lewis‘ book series “The Chronicles of Narnia” the characters were nervous about Aslan the Lion.
“As Aslan passed by they were terribly afraid He would turn and look at them, yet in some queer way they wished He would.” Naturally one would be nervous meeting a lion! The question was asked to one who knew this Lion well, “Is He safe?” Mr. Beaver replied, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God is not safe…but he is good. He is all-powerful, but he loves you and wants the best for you.
Is Psalm 34:9 we read that God will provide all you need when you fear him. When you revere God, when he is all that you need, you won’t need the approval of other people. You will have his approval and that is all that you need.
Philippians 2:3-4 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
When we are trying to please other people we are actually being selfish! I don’t want people to think less of me. I want them to like me. It’s all about me, me, ME!
The grip that people have on your life begins to loosen when you decide to please God instead. Now their opinion won’t slow you down. You have decided that you won’t let someone’s opinions stop you from pleasing God.
Someone may think that they have a plan for your life, but if God has called you to do something else, then just do it even if they don’t like it. They may say you’re weird, call you a heretic but it doesn’t matter because you aren’t living to please them!
When you decide to follow Jesus don’t expect to fit in. Unfortunately I have found that you probably won’t even fit in with other “Christians” too well. If you are following Christ you will probably stick out like a sore thumb. That is OK because you are not living for their approval anyway.
If you live for God’s approval you WILL be different. Normal is rarely godly!
It’s time to decide to obey what he says and not let the opinions of others limit your success. If God calls you to take a big risk, then take that step regardless of what other people think. Because we want God to be the biggest thing in our lives.
It’s time to break free. Chances are that your live would be vastly different if you weren’t so concerned with what other people thought. You might work somewhere else. You might do something else. You might be someone else.
Romans 12:2 tells us to stop trying to be like everyone else. Be who God created YOU to be. You don’t have to be like them anymore. Live to please him.
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