I used to be an early riser. But I’m becoming more of a night owl. It’s common for me to drink a cup of coffee at 10 o’clock and go to bed around 1 o’clock in the morning. During this time, I typically catch up on some reading or work on seminary assignments.
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.
I get overwhelmed pretty easily.
Most of the time, I don’t handle this feeling of being stressed out so well. I have a tendency to shut down. Block out everything and leave things to be dealt with later. As you can imagine, this only creates more stress for myself.
I’m in a season of life right now with a lot of planning and a lot of change. These are all good things. Great things actually. But this is a recipe for stress in my life.
How do you handle overwhelming situations?
We all recite the verse that says, “When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2 NKJV).
But we tend to leave it at that. We never look at the beginning of this Psalm. Or, at least, I never did.
“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to you, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1-2 NKJV).
After reading this, I stopped all of my “self-help” tricks (running, yoga, Netflix binges, etc.), and I sat on my bed and prayed. Next, I picked up my Bible.
This has been my morning routine ever since. Even more so in seasons of great stress.
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ Or ‘What shall we drink?’ Or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:30-33 ESV).
I love this passage.
After reading these verses, we can rest in the fact that God knows exactly what our needs are.
I used to do things backwards. I would worry, try to figure things out myself, worry some more, go for a run, and THEN take it to God.
I have found a way that saves me a lot of steps and a lot of worry.
I’ve not perfected it by any means. I still worry.
But I have found that I worry less when I first read the words of a God who already has it all figured out.
Worry and worship share the same characteristics: deep thought, unshakeable focus, surrender, and devotion. The only difference between worry and worship is the recipient of those characteristics.
A good worrier has the potential of being a good worshipper. However, this can only happen when the recipient shifts from the external to the eternal.
That’s not a good thing. We’re called to worship.
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way” (John 4:23 NLT).
One way we worship is by investing our God-given talents, skills, and gifts.