I am a people pleaser. I love to make others happy, and I fear their rejection of me. Frequently, I find myself hesitant to make any sort of decision without first considering, “What will others think of me?” I end up over-committed (God forbid I should ever say “no” to someone!), extra tired, and unable to carry out the responsibilities that should take priority in my life…responsibilities such as spending time with God daily, being physically and emotionally available to serve my husband and be a support to him, being prepared for my small group that I am in charge of for our church’s youth group, etc. This tendency of mine to be a people pleaser is not good, and it definitely is not the “abundant life” of which Jesus has promised me (John 10:10)!
Ohhh, how the following passage has brought relief to this weary soul (and tired body!):
“I (Paul speaking) care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God (1 Cor. 4:3-5).”
Did you catch what Paul said? He didn’t even judge himself!! But is that what made him innocent before God? No! “It is the Lord who judges me.” And guess what? Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, which paid for my sins, and His resurrection from the dead, I am REDEEMED. INNOCENT before God. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter what so-and-so thinks of me when I have to say “no” to something. It doesn’t even matter what I think of me (I am, after all, my own worst critic). It only matters what GOD thinks of me, and He has declared me “righteous” because of Christ.
Now, does this mean that I should just stop serving altogether and be lazy or selfish with my time? Not at all!! Look at what Paul said in 1 Cor. 6:19,20- “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” You are not your own. So glorify God in your body. This is how I am to live, with the aim of bringing honor to God. Not only does this keep me from being unproductive or selfish, it frees me from living to please others. From being overbooked and living in fear of others’ opinions of me. From living in fear of my own opinion of myself. All I need to focus on is how I can please God with my time, and it is then that I find “abundant life” and freedom from sin.
Sooo, if you’re like me and you struggle with people pleasing/fear of man, know that there is freedom from it in Jesus Christ! Take a moment and ask God to renew your mind so that you can discern His will (Rom.12:1,2), and follow Him. Do not fear what others think of you because, frankly, it doesn’t matter. Instead, fear God, who is the One who can destroy both body and soul (Matt.10:28-31)!! Do not become lazy or selfish with your life, either, for “you are not your own….So glorify God in your body (1 Cor.6:19,20).”
Below I have listed some questions to ask when opportunities arise, so I can know when I need to say “yes” or “no” to something. Hope it helps you as well!
- What is my motivation for doing this event/service opportunity? Am I trying to please others? Myself? God? The goal is to please God in all that I do (1 Cor.10:31)
- Do I have the time to do this? If no, is there anything I can cut out of my schedule to make it happen? Prior responsibilities and commitments are NOT options of things to cut out!
- Will doing this event or service opportunity impair my ability to keep up with the other duties/responsibilities that I currently have? While there are exceptions, most of the time I need to say “no” if it is going to result in not fulfilling my other duties.
- Have I talked this over with my husband and received his input on the matter? It is SO important to discuss these things with my spouse, because he is always the one who is most affected by the choices I make.
Are there any other questions that you would add to this list, or passages of scripture that encourage you in this area? I would love to hear your feedback.
*Two books-outside of the Bible, obviously- that I would highly recommend on the topic of people pleasing are: When People Are BIG and God is Small by Edward T. Welch, and The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller (much of what I came up with for this post is derived from Keller’s helpful book, in fact).