I was talking to my fiance last night as he drove me home to my apartment about how frustrating it can be sometimes to care so much. I wish I could say that my “caring nature” or my ability to obsess over what people think was because I’m just inherently a selfless person that is always thinking about others, but we know that would be a lie. What it stems from is my desire to avoid conflict and to avoid disappointing others.
What it stems from is my discomfort after making decisions that are contrary to what others believe in. It can feel so conflicting when these decisions, that you’ve often prayed on or even heard specifically from God to go through with, are not fan favorites of some others. You start to doubt whether you’re making the right decision and whether you even truly heard God.
“Was I imagining things? Was that really Him?”
With certain decisions, I am completely fine. With certain decisions that I am sure I sought God’s opinion and heard from him, I am fine with it because I know that He’s ordained this. However, what about smaller decisions? What about decisions that aren’t always as vivid or as clear? Will I still trust then that the Lord will carry me through or will I trust in what’s comfortable or easy?
As I was writing this and pondering over this struggle, I was reminded of the verse that talks about how it’s almost impossible to seek to please others and seek Christ at the same time:
“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,” (Galatians 1:10).
It may seem like we can do both, but what if God is calling you to do something that sounds crazy or is something that most people do not want you to do?
Even if we look at examples in the bible, many of the disciples were persecuted for their faith and for having beliefs that others did not attest to. I am learning that if we’re so willing to compromise on these little things that we’re being asked to do, what are we going to do if we’re being asked to compromise on bigger things such as our faith and values just to appease others?
There are going to be decisions that God is calling us to make that others don’t agree with.
There are going to be choices that the Lord is leading us towards that don’t make sense to others and sometimes even ourselves. There have been quite a few moments in my life where I’ve questioned and where I’ve been asked to do things at certain times that really did not make sense to me. Yet, I stepped in out faith, sensing that God was leading me towards it. I need to remember this and remember that while I did that, I will have to do it many times in the future. We all will.
The other verse that hit me is found in John 5:41, where Jesus states, “I receive not honour from men.” (NKJV). Jesus, who deserves all of the honor and the glory, in His life on earth even stated that He does not get glory from men. This statement sticks out to me not only because it shows His humility, but it also reminds me that I cannot seek glory from people. I cannot seek approval and praises of people.
It’s something that God is still working on me on. It’s something that I’m realizing cannot be erased by simple decisions or even big ones. Over 20 years of people-pleasing cannot be erased simply in one year or one day. It takes time and it takes a day-by-day effort. It takes Christ.
I think by the end of the conversation, I realized that this work can not be done by me. That I am not capable of completely removing my on-and-off struggle with that. The only one who can completely erase my struggle with seeking to please others to keep them happy is Jesus. The only one who can and is showing me that my identity is in Him – not in others or their opinions of me, is Jesus. It’s a process, but it’s one that I think God allows, so we’re reminded of our need and ultimate dependence on Him.
So, whatever the struggle or cross is that you bear, bear it knowing that through it you are growing closer to Christ. Bear it knowing that this thorn in your flesh won’t exist forever. Bear it knowing that on the other side there is fruit that can only come from Jesus Christ.
Here are some verses that I am looking to mediate on for the next few weeks and I hope that you are able to find comfort in them, too!
5 Verses to Memorize When You Struggle With People-Pleasing:
- “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” – (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
- “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” – (Psalm 118:8)
- “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -(Colossians 3:1)
- “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” – (Proverbs 16:7)
- “‘He said, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in his name, didn’t we? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men!”’ – (Acts 5:28-29)