Why People Pleasing Is Not What God Wants for You

Have you noticed the influx of media marketing lately? Post after post offers seminars or curriculum to help you “be the best you” that you can be because you deserve to live your dreams or change the world with your passion.

Am I the only one who feels pangs of anxiety when I look over these posts? There is almost a subliminal message that says:

  • You aren’t good enough. 
  • You need to try harder. 
  • Everyone else is resolving to do better.
  • You had better keep up the pace.

I don’t know about you, but the very idea of these accusations sends me looking for a paper bag to breathe into.

When I start to feel overwhelmed by a barrage of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” thinking, I have learned it’s time to stop the voice in my head. 

I don’t know about you, but comparing myself to others is exhausting. Yet, being a middle child and a born people-pleaser, my natural default is to compare myself to those more motivated than me. And when I do that I lose––every time.

Lose what? I’m glad you asked. 

Living for the approval of others is never a worthy goal. Let’s face it; people pleasing is a moving target. We’ve all heard “You can’t please all the people all the time,” so if you’re a people pleaser, you will exhaust yourself trying to measure up to everyone else’s standard for success.

When you bow to the standard of others, you’ll also lose peace of mind. Because you will constantly compare yourself to how others are doing, or change your goals based on the comments of others. 

So, what can you do? For me freedom from people pleasing came in a number of ways. First and foremost was when I surrendered my life to Jesus as my Lord and Savior because the Spirit of God gave me new life in Christ. 

Once enslaved to my trespasses and sins, I found God set me free. By the power of His indwelling Spirit, God’s peace began to rule in my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (see Romans 6 and Philippians 4:7).

When I realized that God created me for His glory and not my own, I learned the most important person to please was the Lord my God. Wow––what a relief!

No longer did I need to seek the approval of others. 

The only standard I had to live up to was the one Jesus called me to in relationship with Him.

So what is that standard? 

In Mark 12:30-31, the religious leaders asked Jesus what was the priority of life. Jesus’ response was two-fold:

  1. Love God with all of your being.
  2. Love others.

Now, don’t be tempted to simplify this statement to mean, “God doesn’t care about my sin; all that matters is love.” Because the truth is, if you’re loving God with your whole being, then the evidence of that love is your desire to walk in obedience to His commands. 

Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). So, there’s no way around it. If you’re going to please God alone then your love for Him will cause you to walk in obedience to Him.

The second part of Jesus’ response in Mark 12 was to love others as we love ourselves. Here’s the interesting part of that statement. We cannot love others in the selfless way God commands until we are living in love with Jesus. Because when we love Him properly, what spills out of us is His selfless love for others.

When you live to know and love the Lord and His love spills out of your life onto those around you, you will have learned the secret to breaking free of people-pleasing.

You see, as you draw near to God, He promises to draw near to you. And the closer you walk to Jesus, the more clearly you will have the mind of Christ to discern what He would have you do with your life––rather than comparing yourself to what others are doing with their lives (see James 4:8, 1 Corinthians 2:16).

There is nothing wrong with looking ahead to set some God-driven goals. You would be wise to daily spend quiet time alone with the Lord to seek His will for your life.

But more important than setting goals is the time you spend with Jesus. Because time with Him through prayer, Bible Study, and waiting in His presence is the secret to living the life you were meant to live.  

And when you resolve to live in His presence, you will find the key to freedom from people pleasing.

Rhonda Stoppe is a pastor’s wife, speaker, and author. As the NO REGRETS WOMAN, Rhonda has more than 20 years experience of helping women live life with no regrets. Through humor, and honest communication, she helps women build NO REGRETS LIVES by applying sound teaching from Scripture. Rhonda appears on radio programs, speaks at women’s events, MOPs, and homeschool conventions throughout the nation. Rhonda Stoppe’s book Moms Raising Sons to be Men is mentoring thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her new book If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy: And Other Myths Wives Believe is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages. 

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund

Publication date: January 16, 2017

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