I confess. I’ve spent most of my life as a people pleaser. Oh, it’s not anything to be proud of. There are times when we people pleasers commiserate about our burden. “I care too much about what people think.” This almost sounds like a badge of suffering. After all, I’m burdened by others. That’s a good thing, right? It means I care. Let’s look at that for a moment.
We have to ask, why are there people-pleasers?
- People pleasers want to avoid conflict. If people are happy, they aren’t mad. If I can make people happy, I don’t have to deal with the pain of conflict. Without conflict, life is better for all, right?
- People pleasers want to be well thought-of. If I meet others expectations, or even exceed them, they will appreciate me, or believe me to be competent.
- People pleasers want to be needed. If I am not needed, I don’t have value. My value is increased by the number of people who need me, or by the volume of need I bear.
We may cloak people-pleasing in the cover of just wanting other’s needs to be met, but the truth is that people pleasing is not driven by the needs of others. It is driven by the need of the people-pleaser. People pleasing is self-motivated. People pleasing isn’t people serving, it is self-serving.
Last Sunday I preached from 1 Thessalonians 2. In verses 4-6, Paul wrote: “4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.5For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.6Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.”
Paul says, he wasn’t in ministry to please people. His motives were pure. He wasn’t in it for personal benefit. “Neither flattery, nor personal profit, nor glory from people” were part of his heart for ministry. Let’s be honest, these are often the things the people pleaser are driven by.
Instead of pleasing people, we are called to serve people. People serving is so different. It transforms our doing from being self-motivated, to being God-motivated.
- People serving will create conflict, inward and outward. We will step into conflict with the reconciling gift of forgiveness.
- People serving will be misunderstood by some. There are some who won’t understand when we have to say no to their wants, so we can step into the needs of others.
- People serving rejoices when needs are met, no matter who needs them. A people server is focused on the wholeness of the other, not the hole in their own heart.
How do I become a people server, rather than a people pleaser? I’m still working on that. But I know it has to begin with having my needs met by my Savior. (1) I must get my value from the One who reached out of heaven for me. He did this not because of what I could do for Him, but because of what He had to give to me. And then, (2) I must see my serving as part of his work. I need to follow His lead in meeting the need He wants to meet. If I am serving others with Him, under His leadership, then it is His work, not mine.
Father, I know that I am loved by you by your choice, not my performance. Let me live today for your glory! Let me be in step with you today. Help me serve you by serving others. Give me wisdom to know where and what to give. Give me strength to be uncomfortable and yet, at peace. Amen.
Thanks for listening in on my own process of personal growth. I’d love to hear your comments, thoughts and experiences.
Haven’t thought mu h of this over the years, but there are times I have said, that was a hard sermon for me to preach? Why? Because I want it to be received by a congregation I love. I have seen heads wagging in the affirmative and heads wagging in the negative. I allow it to get into my heart… thus I must be more concerned with people than I realize. Thank you for your devotional thoughts!
People pleasing is a signigicant symptom of codependency. I can certainly relate. Thank you for pointing out that there is a better way.
Very helpful. I appreciate the reminder that people-pleasing is a out the pleaser, not about others. Also, that serving does not always mean people will be happy.
Thanks for your insights. I never thought of people pleasing as being more a selfish desire. Need to serve with God being first.
Much Blessings to you brother in Christ and thank you for that I needed it. I do both at times, but reading this made me to realize how important it is please God.
As Paul said in “Galatians 1:10 GV- For do I now persuade men or God?, Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
I was enlightened by this and may you continue to lean on God to be People serving. God bless you brother In Jesus Name Amen!
Our church read Ephesians 5 on Sunday and discussed how we are to submit and serve one another, and I want to honor God. I also feel that sometimes there is an uneasy feeling about saying yes to people sometimes and my therapist said it’s because you’re people pleasing when you say yes against your will/better judgement. I’m now trying to explore this a bit more and your article and prayer are helpful.
Thank you for the comment. It is a tough balancing act of serving but within healthy boundaries. I pray the Lord will lead you with his wisdom and your relationships will be enriched.