Have you ever been in a situation where you did something for someone that you didn’t necessarily want to? Or how about a time when you told somebody something that wasn’t quite true, maybe you bent the truth a little bit for them? Or, you failed to do something for a friend and didn’t have the heart to tell them right away. These are all common ways of people pleasing, and I have fought through all of them.
Growing up, and even in recent past, friends and people around me would say that I was a nice guy. What they didn’t know was that I was trying to be a people pleaser, and really enjoyed the status quo of most of my relationships. But why? Why try and please people? This conundrum has been on my mind from the start of the year. Am I going to fall into the same trap in 2012 and be a perpetual people pleaser? The Crossing memory verse really hit home for me:
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in man.” Psalm 118:8 NIV
This verse really speaks to people pleasing. If the Bible is telling me that trusting in man is futile compared to trusting in the Lord, why do I continually put my trust in man? The connection is obvious. People pleasing is a way of trusting in others, when I am trying to please others I am essentially saying, “I value how you look at me/think about me, regardless of whether or not it is true.” People pleasing is a way for us to ‘pull the wool’ over someones eyes, so that they will continue to trust in us for a myriad of wrong reasons.
Lets look at how Paul dealt with this. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul rebukes the Galatian church early on for quickly believing in a false gospel taught by false teachers. Paul points to the contradictory belief that pleasing God and pleasing man can go hand in hand:
“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 ESV
It’s clear that Paul, and the Bible, tells us that people pleasing is contrary to pleasing God. The question is in whom do we trust? In whom do I look to for my well-being? People or God? Am I going to let 2012 be the same as years past? It’s a struggle to not people please; I would venture to say that a good majority of us want friends to like us. The Bible calls us to fight that, to fight the feeling of wanting people to trust in us, and for us wanting to trust in others. The Bible calls us to take refuge in the Lord, and to trust in Him alone.