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.
Every child knows what it’s like to be home alone. Every student knows what it’s like for a teacher to leave the classroom. And every employee knows what it’s like when the boss isn’t around. In those moments, our first instinct is to do whatever we want. Destroy the house. Be the class clown. Send a text message. And all of that sounds fun—unless, of course, the one we fear suddenly returns. And we get caught. So, with that in mind, most of us choose not to take the risk and act as if said person could return at any moment.
I enjoy tasting samples of food. There’s something special about those tiny clear cups and miniature spoons. The portions leave much to be desired, but their purpose is to whet the appetite. Ideally, the customer enjoys the taste and seeks the actual portion.
The only way to like a certain food is to taste it first. For example, you don’t know if you like chocolate if you’ve never tasted chocolate. Appetite is a consequence of taste.
There are many foods I’ve never tasted. Consequently, I don’t know if I like those foods or not. I don’t have an appetite for those foods because I’ve never tasted them in order to know how good or bad they are.
I often find myself so distracted by my responsibilities that I miss the goodness of God. As I write this, I’m sitting on my front porch. Birds sing in the background. Gigantic, puffy clouds span the blue sky. Flowers blossom. Trees stand tall. This is God’s creation.
But as beautiful as it is outside, my inside is desperate for something more. Something genuine. Something real.
I get so caught-up in this world. It’s almost like I forget about Heaven. But I don’t. Actually, I can’t. Because there’s something about me that longs for it every single moment of every single day.
As Christians, we’re called to be different. That’s a no-brainer. Don’t get drunk. Don’t have premarital sex. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t cuss. You’ve probably heard those commands. And chances are, you’ve heard them from the supposedly “good” people of the world — Christians.
Now, don’t get me wrong, those statements are true. We are, indeed, called to be different. But there’s a reason why. Most people know God’s commands, but if they don’t know the reason behind those commands, they’ll likely continue living in disobedience.