Living to please people is a restrictive and horrible way to live our lives.
We are afraid to do anything, say anything, or be anything other than a people pleaser. Of course, this then means we are not free to be who we really are. As humans, we crave acceptance and dislike rejection—this can leave us crippled by a need to steer our lives in a particular way that meets with approval from others'.
As a young girl, I had the same need. I wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone. Then I met Jesus and that changed everything. I realized that I was loved by Him. With all my flaws, imperfections, and failures, He loved me as I was. Don't get me wrong—I still sought human approval, but if I didn't get it my world didn't collapse because I knew I was intrinsically loved by my Father in heaven.
The sad fact is that often our need for human approval limits us in sharing our faith with people. We are afraid to offend or be ridiculed or be outright rejected. The bible is encouraging to me because I see characters that freed themselves from the desire to be accepted and admired by humans. The apostle Paul knew what it was to be loved and admired, but he also knew what is was to be despised. Yet he was able to say (Philippians 3:8) that those things did not matter to him. What counted to Paul was that he had God's stamp of approval.
So let me mention a few points for freeing us from this potent potion of people pleasing:
- Neither Applause or Criticism is Good for the Soul: We sometimes think that applause is harmful, but I would say that criticism is also destructive. I have sought to discipline my heart not to give heed to the applause or to the criticism of people. Now don't hear me incorrectly—I am not saying that I am immune to criticism, neither am I suggesting that I will never listen to criticism. There are times when I need to hear honest and loving criticism. But that is the point—it is honest, loving, and it makes me a better person, if I receive it with an open heart. However, when people are simply slanderous and unkind, I choose to guard my heart from that ungodly behavior. I will not allow my spirit to get tainted by unkind, untrue, and uncaring words. Applause can also be harmful to my soul. I begin to see myself in a way that does not please my heavenly Father and I never want to disappoint Him. I am simply an ordinary, sinful human being, saved and loved by my God—I never want to forget that!
- The Need for Acceptance and Admiration is not Good for the Soul: If you have this constant need for acceptance and admiration there is a problem. You have to be assured in your spirit that God has accepted you and that His approval is sufficient. The need for acceptance and approval will limit what you say, restrict what you do, and stifle who you are. Be content in the knowledge that your God loves you, He made you, He has a plan for your life, and His plan is always good.
- Rejection can be a Stumbling Block or a Stepping Stone: You can choose what to do with rejection. When people reject you because of your faith you can choose to allow that situation to build your faith. We know that Jesus was rejected by the crowds and He told us that if people rejected Him they would also reject us. What a thought! You are simply walking in the steps of Jesus. In times when I have felt rejected and hated I have cast myself on Jesus much more than when I receive approval. I run to Him, I lean on Him, I acknowledge my need of Him. There have also been times when I have allowed rejection to fester in my soul and it is an unpleasant place to be. I choose to throw myself into the hands of a loving God who loves me as I am.
Let go of the desire to please others—it does not mean that we treat people in an uncaring way. In fact, quite the opposite! We love more, we care more, we give more, we pray more, but we do not expect affirmation or approval in return. We know that we have received approval from our heavenly Father—and that is more than enough!
I pray that you will feel and know His love and acceptance today. Quit looking for human approval. Stop trying to please people—be free to be the person God made you.
I am and always will be,
recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,