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
I have got to get balanced. I said to myself.
I had said something of the same nature a number of times. Maybe even felt it once or twice over the course of the year, and if I was being honest with myself it was probably when I was on vacation, or was only spinning one plate. I rarely spin one plate. I spin multiple. In the air. At the same time. Usually on the same day. And through the years, with the help of therapy, self-awareness, and most of all God…I know I don’t do well with spinning plates.
Some plate eventually falls.
The one that does is usually me. And what happens is I become a person I don’t like very much. I know in these moments I have to focus on that plate, and let the others sit down for a bit.
And in my search I found it, that thing I was looking frantically for. Not the balance I so desperately wanted, but some idea of it I remembered was sitting on a shelf staring at me. A book. It’s title? The Worn Out Woman: When Your Life is Full and Your Spirit is Empty.
I had read this book before. Well, actually…started and not finished. I was worn out. Check. My life was certainly full. Check. But was my spirit empty? Not yet. But I didn’t want to get here, either.
So I started reading it, doing all the assignments the end of each chapter suggested. Because these things only work with follow through. Reading is wonderful. Knowledge is great, but its true power comes from action.
And then, I got to this…the core of most of our problems with balance: people-pleasing. Now…someone needs this today. I know, because I used to be that someone. A people-pleaser. According to the authors, you can determine if you are doing things in an effort to please people by asking the following questions:
Do I work overtime to impress those around me? Do I often say yes when I really want to say no? Do I depend too much on compliments and affirmations to make me feel good? Do I let others schedule my priorities and activities? Do I try too hard to be nice? Do I take criticism too personally? Do I find it too hard to be firm? Do I feel bad when someone is upset with me? Do I apologize when I don’t need to? Do I bend over backward for other people, even when part of me is protesting or resentful? (page 46)
If you answered yes, you, my dear, may suffer from the disease to please.
And if you need a personal and vulnerable testimony to help it sink in. To not feel so alone, here you go:
My people-pleasing came in the form of expectations. Meeting unrealistic expectations, because they were expectations of others. Boxes I was trying to check-off that others had deemed necessary for me, and I wanted desperately to fit into them. To be liked. To be approved. To feel like a part. I did this in most spaces-work, friendships, even people I didn’t like very much. I did everything to figure out why they didn’t like me. Tried to change it, and eventually lost who I was. I even did this…yes, at church.
People-pleasing did not save me from rejection. I did not make people like me more. It did not make me feel a greater sense of belonging. It made me feel less connected, less genuine, and less like my true, authentic self. It also wore me down, and made me feel no sense of purpose.
Pleasing people can leave you worn out. Feeling as if you never measure up. Feeling completely lost, and wondering where you fit in. You will not please every single person here even if you try, and the desire to do so will leave you depleted. It can also leave you questioning your call. I know, because I did. I almost completely left it.
Now, back to those questions. Let’s go back and insert “God” into the originals: Do I work overtime to impress God? Do I often say yes to God? Do I depend on God to make me feel good? Do I make God a priority over other activities? Do I respond to others with honesty? When criticized do I seek God in prayer and handle conversations with care? Do I speak the truth in love when I need to be firm? Do I seek to make ammends when someone is upset with me? Do I apologize and take accountability when I need to? Do I seek God’s will for assignments and priorities, and set boundaries with my time if needed?
Are the answers different? If they aren’t and you find yourself saying “no,” then perhaps you need to change your priority and focus. Is your focus on likes and approval from those around you, or on what God has destined for you? Praying for God to reveal this and for Him to shift your priorities will help in shifting from people-pleasing to God-pleasing.
And isn’t this what we really want, anyway? To please Him above all others?