Are you tired? Downright exhausted? Are you working so hard to meet everyone’s expectations and then fretting over how yours are not being met in return? When you look at your “to-do” list do you find you’re over scheduled, over committed and frankly just plain over it!?
How much time on that schedule have you devoted to things like prayer, scripture reading, meditation or worship? I know, I know…that’s a lot of questions. And, those are just the ones I’ve been asking myself!
The Disciples Study on Wednesday nights has led to many deep and soul-searching conversations that invoke questions like these. We’ve discussed things like, “you can never be good enough”, “you can’t handle it all”, “you can’t control the future”, and “you can’t please everyone”. Although these ideas can seem deflating at first, realizing that God CAN take care of things can be a relief. But, what to do with that tricky people-pleasing bit?
Getting caught up in what people think about you is the fastest way to forget about what God thinks about you. It is so easy in life to shift from living to please God to aiming to please and receive affirmation from the people around us. It’s imperative to remember that our individual value and worth is apparent in the fact that God loved us so much that He sent his only son. We can remember that God has blessed us with gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we can be empowered to serve God, not serve people. When we are truly living to please God then the people in our lives will be blessed.
“God planned for us to do good things and to live as he wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.” Ephesians 2:10
It’s all a part of God’s plan! The problem is that there is an unhealthy temptation to instead surrender our lives to the opinions of others.
“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” John 12:42-43
I always start off intending to do what is right with God. I pray for guidance in making decisions and making plans. I pray for wisdom in how to effectively exist in harmony with those around me. But my desire to please others often causes me to compromise what I feel I’m being called to do. Too often I lose time doing things I do not want to do, or I don’t take the time to do the things I should. This should not be. After all, I cannot please everyone, but I can please God.
“Are we trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? If we are still trying to please people, we will struggle to be servants of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
I recognize that the more we try to serve God the more our spiritual enemy will seek to attack us. That master of lies will use discouragement and defamation to break us down and distract us from God’s calling on our lives.
A ministry mentor of mine said something to me years ago that has stuck with me. He told me, “Not everyone is going to like you and you have to be okay with that.”
Well, that’s a tough one to swallow! It’s counterintuitive to be okay with people not liking us!
He said, “You have to love the approval of God more than that of people. People will criticize you and pick at the silliest things just to get a reaction. But God will love you unconditionally. Who would you rather serve?”
“Fear of others will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25
God created in us unique qualities that make us who we are, though others will try to mold us into what is comfortable and convenient for their lives. How can we learn to do as God expects of us and find value in knowing that we are fulfilling the call on our lives?
Sometimes we’re going to blow it. Sometimes we will trip and fall. And while there may be those who will try and do the tripping or kick us when we’re down, God is the one reaching out to dust us off and tell us to try again.
Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Psalm 34:9
What, that we need, are we gaining from seeking or even receiving the approval of others? Will it sustain us?
I think Eleanor Roosevelt said it best.“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
God, however, sees us, cares for us and blesses us ALL of the time. That’s why we should aim to please an audience of one.