People Pleasing

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Are you a people pleaser?  Often we seek love and joy, attention, affection, and approval from others rather than finding it in God, through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Some time ago a friend of mine expressed they were upset with me in a letter. I replied to this individual promptly in a gracious, loving, and God honoring way. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the letter. Over and over I replayed the words of this letter in my mind. For an entire week I was consumed with the fact that this individual was unhappy with me, despite my reaching out to him. All week long I prayed for the situation, for my friend, and for myself but the uneasy feeling remained. Finally that Saturday night I went off into my bedroom to pray. As I prayed about the uneasy feeling I had over this letter the Lord spoke to me. He said, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7).
I thought about that for a little while. I hadn’t realized I had been operating out of fear. I knew I was upset that this person was upset with me but I didn’t equate that with fear. Like everyone else I have the need for love and joy. I want attention, affection, and approval. God was calling me to surrender my desire for approval from others. Please don’t misunderstand. God wants us to resolve our differences. We are called to love, forgive, put up with, and even pray for one another. However, at the end of the day our emotions should not rise and fall depending on how others feel about us. Ultimately our love and joy, our attention, affection, and approval comes from God, through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

One area we need to surrender in our lives today is, “People Pleasing.”

Let me give you another example. I am a people pleaser to a fault. If someone asks me to do something for them I have a hard time saying, “No.” That’s the people pleaser in me. The challenge comes when my schedule is already full, I’ve made all the commitments I can possibly handle, and I take on more because I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Now my family begins to suffer, or my ministry begins to suffer, or I have to back out at the last minute of a commitment I should have never made in the first place.
Let’s look at the parable of the two sons:
Matthew 21:28-32 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
In our pursuit of love and joy, attention, affection, and approval, we like the second son, sometimes lie or manipulate people. We want to be loved so much. It is so important that we have the approval of others we become people pleasers. The problem with that is we can’t possibly please everyone all the time. So we rob time from our family and other responsibilities to please others.
One strategy we sometimes employ is manipulation. Like the second son in the parable we sometimes manipulate people by making promises we don’t intend to keep. To his face the second son said to his father, “Sure I’ll go and work the vineyard today,” but when he left he didn’t keep his word.
True freedom is found in surrendering to the love and joy of God, through Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The Holy Spirit empowers us through the fruit of Love, and Joy to say, “No,” when we need to say, “No.” When we are more concerned with God’s kingdom come, and His will be done, and when we have our needs of love and joy, attention, affection, and approval met in God through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we no longer seek the approval of men. We are content with the Love of God. We set healthy boundaries and we don’t make promises we can’t keep.

The Lord spoke to the late Pastor, Leonard Ravenhill, when he was in his 20’s saying, “Reputation is what people think you are, character is what God knows you are.” Are we more concerned with our reputation or our character? Are willing to follow God realizing it is His kingdom that is to come, it is His will that is to be done. He will lead. It is up to us to follow. Our job primarily is to surrender.
Are you a people pleaser? Pray with me today, “Father in Heaven, Holy is Your Name! How I pray Your kingdom come and Your will be done in my life. Lord I confess I have fallen prey to people pleasing. In an effort to feel loved or significant I have sought the approval of others to an unhealthy level. With the help of the Holy Spirt I will no longer be held captive by fear of rejection. I will no longer make promises I can’t keep. I will not allow my emotions to rise and fall based on the attention, affection, or approval of others. Thank You for the Spirit of power and love and self-control. May I be content with You love. May I operate in Your power and self-control. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen!

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