I am a people-pleaser.
It manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes, it crops up when a person has an expectation of me. In order to make the person happy, I will bend over backwards to respond to their wishes. I will return a phone call immediately. Even if something else is on the docket, I will push it to the side in order to meet with the person. I will give a ministry consideration a second look in order to cater to the person.
In other cases, it shows itself after a difficult conversation. The uneasiness causes me to want to quickly apologize, amend my comments, or dwell on what the person now thinks of me. For me, it is not the tension but rather the opinion of the other person that is causing this anxiety. In essence, it is a response to people-pleasing.
Other times it involves weakness. Because I want to appear competent, I hide certain struggles. In these cases, it is not a desire to please that person but rather for that person to be pleased with me. Yet, it is still a form of people-pleasing.
The sad truth about people-pleasing is that it shoves God to the fringes of my mind. I begin to live for other people rather than God. In these moments, the opinion of someone else becomes more important than the opinion of God. More so I can at times deprive the voice of God from speaking to that person if in fact the difficult conversation was necessary for that person’s spiritual maturity. I then become irritated because I feel as I have squelched my own personhood for that of another person.
Christ challenges me in this area. The ministry of Jesus was never about people-pleasing. Certainly, he was gracious and kind. However, when it came to matters of truth, he never minced words. I do not see Christ apologizing to the rich man for challenging his affections towards wealth as he was walking away. “I am sorry I made you uncomfortable. Let me rephrase that.” When it came to his challenge to the Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus did not soften his stance. “Did I say he who has no sin throw the first stone? What I meant to say was I applaud your commitment to holiness. You are doing a great job in this area. But, can we work on your approach as you were a little strong with this woman?”
No, Jesus was not a people-pleaser. His primary concern was that people were good with God. He was deeply interested in their spiritual maturity to the point that many walked away from him because of it.
Am I advocating for unfiltered frankness? No. There are people who rationalize their unveiled bluntness for the sake of spiritual truth. We need to speak truth with grace. What I am saying is that we should not water down truth so that another person likes us.
What if this became our posture in life? What if we prayed for our interactions with people not with a tone of accommodation but one of truth and grace? What if we lived in the moment not in some realm of guilt regarding something we said or did? What if we stopped imaging what a person wants us to do and rather respond to what God desires for us in the moment and then be ok with it? What if we became God-pleasers rather than people-pleasers?