As a worship minister, my primary responsibility is choosing songs for our congregation to sing each Sunday. And this is something I take rather seriously. Because music is powerful. The songs we sing stick with us for years to come, influencing what we believe about the world, life, humanity—and, yes, even God.
I have something that has been termed the “disease to please.”
I am a people pleaser.
My desire for people pleasing has affected me in many ways throughout my life.
It has led me to avoiding confrontation and saying yes to many (MANY) things that I didn’t really have the time or energy for. Every decision I make usually is made after numerous hours of contemplating how other people will think of my choice. Overall, my entire life has been lived in a way to try to make other people happy.
Recently, I have realized how my people pleasing has affected my relationship with God as well.
It has been my idol.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10 ESV).
When I read this verse, it felt like I had been kicked in the gut.
How many times have I put the approval of man over the approval of God?
In the book of Luke we read a story of two sisters, Mary and Martha.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV).
From the very beginning we can see the character of these two women.
Mary was at the Lord’s feet. She had “chosen the good portion.”
Martha, on the other hand, was a people pleaser. Instead of listening to Jesus’ teaching, she was running around her house to serve Him. This left her anxious.
Just like Martha, our people pleasing leaves us anxious.
We should strive to be like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus. Listening to His teaching, seeking His approval, worshiping Him.
In the words of John Piper, “Man’s disapproval cannot hurt you, and man’s approval cannot satisfy you.”
The world’s approval, or lack-thereof, is utterly useless to you. It is only God’s approval that has any meaning in our lives. Let our focus be on pleasing Him, rather than the people of this world.
In this final look at Paul’s letter to Philemon, I want us to focus on verses 21 through 25. It reads, “Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (ESV).
The apostle Paul writes to Philemon, “If he [Onesimus] has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ” (Philemon 18-20 ESV).
I started college three weeks ago.
I can’t tell you that it has been a great experience and that I love it because I don’t. I have cried every day.
This past week, I was having a particularly rough day. I called a friend of mine, and I told her my struggles with college.
She said to me, “Jordy, remember God’s promises for you.”
After this phone call, I was reminded of Romans 4:20, which says, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised" (ESV).
God promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son and that Abraham would be the father to nations (Gen. 17:15-16).
“He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb” (Rom. 4:19 ESV).
At the time of this promise, Abraham was about 100 years old and Sarah 90 years old. I don’t know about you, but this would give me A LOT of reason to doubt God. But Abraham stayed strong in his faith. He believed that God would fulfill His promise.
I have seen many of God’s promises for my life fulfilled over recent months.
You see, I have had some bad experiences with relationships. This led me to proclaiming that I would never marry. Yet, I always prayed for my future husband and for a relationship that was glorifying to God. I prayed this because I knew that God had someone for me, even if my experiences made me anxious.
What I’m trying to say is this: your present circumstances do not change God’s promises.
Maybe you’re struggling with your job or your relationships. Or, maybe you are having a hard time transitioning into college like I am. God sees you. He sees your struggle. And He knows the desires of your heart.
Trust Him and His promises for your life.
“The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised” (Gen. 21:1 ESV).