“I’ve been dying to tell you anything you want to hear, cause that’s just who I am this week”
-“Sugar We’re Going Down” Fall Out Boy
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ”
- Galatians 1:10
There is a little people pleaser in all of us. We all desire to be accepted by people and pleasing those people is one way we that we gain acceptance (or so we believe). Thus we seek to make people happy through our conversations and actions. The area that I see it affect the most is decisiveness
What are we doing this weekend? Where are we going to eat?
These question work very well to quite a crowd (I should actually think about using them to quiet my students). Why does no one have any idea where we should eat? We eat all the time and we know what we want but we are still tentative to suggest a place to eat. The wariness to put our restaurant out there stems from our fear that someone will reject where we want to go (aka not accept us for something as trivial as a restaurant). We believe that when someone rejects our choice, they are indeed rejecting us. Why else are we so tentative to suggest a restaurant? The same type of issue arises when there is the possibility of our idea/plan to get rejected. I used to almost apologize when I offered a plan/idea just in case I did incredibly offend someone by my choice. Then I realized that if someone is incredibly offended by my plan/idea, they should come up with a better one. That takes the pressure off of me because I actually have a plan/idea while they are just complaining about the plan/idea. This is just one of the characteristics of a people pleaser.
I AM a people pleaser! There is no way around it; you can only go through it. For the longest time I’ve been told that it is bad to be a people pleaser. A quick Google search of “people pleaser” yields countless journals on “how to stop being a people pleaser” or how “people pleasers ruin the family.” I have been a people pleaser my whole life because I come from a family that cannot say “no.” Since I grew up in that environment I struggle with recognizing what makes me happy because the focus has always been on making others happy. I do regret that I don’t have strong feelings toward a certain kind of music or a certain kind of food. I would love to be able to answer the question, "What is your favorite band?" without feeling fear that I will somehow offend that person. At the same time it allows me to interact with anyone in any environment. Using the restaurant analogy again, I never care where we eat because I will eat anything if the other people are happy. I have seen how people pleasing can lead to a life of anxiety, when all you can think about is pleasing EVERYONE around you. Is it bad? It sure sounds bad. This is why many Christians fall into depression and anxiety; they cannot please everyone and they blame themselves.
Even though I have always been a people pleaser, God has kept me from falling into anxiety and/or depression. I claim the grace of God for that! Whenever I feel depressed or anxiety is creeping up, I rest in the fact that no matter what I do, I have a Heavenly Father who LOVES me more then I can comprehend! And even if I can never please anyone again, I know “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?” –Hebrews 13:6.
Am I crazy for thinking this way? I’m still an unashamed people pleaser and I prefer to think of myself as the apostle Paul said, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” -1 Corinthians 9:22. I become what people want but at the same time I hold to my convictions that make me unique. I don’t change who I am but I be the person that God needs me to be for them. No smoke and mirrors but rather clear and clean mirrors to reflect God’s LOVE for everyone. (But trust me; I’m not that good at it yet. This sounds great on paper but in practice I still seek my glory over God’s glory.)