People-pleasing is a spreading epidemic. Have you been infected with this encroaching disease? Very few have been able to avoid it. Maybe you have it and aren’t aware of it. Here are the symptoms.
- You rarely say “no” to people.
- You believe making people happy is love.
- You feel resentful because of all you “have” to do.
- You feel like running away some days.
- You feel exhausted.
- You feel trapped.
Here are some reasons why a person falls into people-pleasing. I like to use the acronym S.C.A.L.E because living this way is like attempting to SCALE mountains. It gives you a sense of Significance. You feel a measure of Competence. You want Acceptance from those you please. It makes you feel Loved, in a twisted sort of way. You derive a lot of your personal Esteem from it.
My wife and her brother were hiking the Colorado trail together and there were many mountains to scale. The altitude increased every few days. At first she loved it – the beauty and the challenge of conquering the trail. Then she got altitude sickness. She received treatment at an emergency room and later another doctor. However, it was not enough. She would wake up at night unable to get her breath. She finally had to come down from the mountain. Later, her local doctor told her that her lungs had been filling up with fluid. If she had continued, she might have died. I’m thankful she came down from that hike!
Are you ready to stop trying to scale your mountain of people-pleasing? Did you know that even the Apostle Paul was afflicted with this. Before his conversion, he was attempting to scale the mountain of the approval of Israeli leaders through his zeal to persecute the church. Afterwards, he learned over time that there was a higher goal. It was God’s approval.
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
God is always pleased with who you are in Christ and He doesn’t want you to try to earn that. You always have it. So what does it mean to gain his approval? Here are a few things that might surprise you because they are not legalistic but full of grace.
He wants you to rest in him. (Romans 5:19) In other words, live confident that your Father always accepts you. As a result, you don’t “need” other’s acceptance to be OK even within yourself. He wants you to rely on the Holy Spirit in you instead of your fleshly ways of people-pleasing. (Galatians 5:16) He wants you to know you don’t have to make it your goal to make everyone happy. He wants you to stay in your lane. In other words, he has given you the grace to accomplish certain things in life, not everything. (Ephesians 2:10)
When we live from a place of faith, trust, and dependence on Christ, this always pleases God. This is God’s cure for people-pleasing. It may feel weird when you start living from this place instead of in the place of people-pleasing, but stick with it. This pleases God, it’s God’s best for you. It will give you the freedom to love people in healthy ways.
Live Free in Christ!