The Perils of a People Pleaser

Whether by nature, by nurture, or a by a combination of both, I am a dyed in the wool people pleaser. As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to please people, whether it was my parents, my teachers, my friends or even strangers. I want to make people happy and I really, really, want them to like me. I live for positive feedback. I positively bloom when praise is showered upon me. Unfortunately, I also negatively wilt and wither when I feel like I have displeased someone. I feel like a dog who brings his master’s slippers to him and then sits there wagging it’s tail and wriggling in eager anticipation of the much desired pat on the head and “good boy” (and perhaps a yummy Scooby snack). When the master does these things, the dog wags and wiggles in even more joy. But when the master either ignores or rebukes the dog, the dog cowers and away into a corner. Yup – that’s me – an eager puppy either wagging or slinking – always uncertain.

This constant need for and seeking of approval has caused me much trouble in my life and is an unhealthy mindset. The desire to be liked, wanted, or loved has led me to make some unwise choices that have had hard consequences. Having said that, neither have I really been a follower of the crowd and neither am I willing to do just anything to feel like I belong. This conflict has often left me feeling confused, alone and lonely.

As a Christian, I have often felt like I was living between a rock and a hard place. My desire to live a Godly life means that I very often do not fit in with people in the secular world. Strangely enough, my personal belief system also puts me at odds with “main-stream” Christians as I do not believe in or follow many traditional church doctrines. (notice that I said “church” doctrines)

As a people pleaser, this is a very difficult way to live. I do not wish to offend those who live in either camp, non-believers and believers, so I am not very verbal about those areas in which I differ. This means that I appear to do a lot of fence -sitting – and to be quite frank – my butt is getting sore!

I know that my problem stems from my mistaken perception that my self worth is based upon what others think of me. I do not know from whence came this very mistaken ideology, but it is deeply ingrained in me and has adversely affected me all of my life. Even in the relative wisdom of my middle age and having an adoring husband and sons and a mother who I know really love me, I still feel like I am somehow “not enough”. You know – not smart enough, successful enough, pretty enough, worthwhile enough, and yes, even not “Christian” enough.

While I have just said that I don’t know where this flawed and harmful thought process comes from, I do, in fact, know. It comes from my enemy the devil. It is he who daily accuses me that I am “not enough” – not good enough for this world and definitely not good enough for God.

Rev 12:10 … For the accuser of our brothers is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.

It is the enemy that causes me to look at myself in a flawed mirror. It is the “fiery darts” of the wicked one that fills my mind with “stinkin’ thinkin”. It is the enemy that plays upon my weakness – my desire to please and be liked by all – to confuse and conflict me.

The two opposing yard sticks in my life, against which I am constantly measuring myself, are the world’s ways and God’s ways. I don’t really want to live in the world’s ways, but I have a life on this earth and I feel that I must find some way of “fitting in”. I really want to live a Godly life, and I tried for many years to live according to “the letter of the law”, but I always felt like I failed so miserably, both in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the Christian church.

While it is difficult, I must keep reminding myself that as a Christian, I CANNOT serve both the gods of this world and The God of all creation at the same time.

Gal 1:10 For now do I persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?

2Co 6:17 Therefore come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord,…

I really need to realize that I am not, in fact, measuring myself “up” against the world. In comparing myself to the world, I am actually using a measuring stick that is far below the one that God desires me to use. Desiring to please “the world” actually brings me down which is in the opposite direction from where God, through Jesus Christ, wants to put me. Jesus Christ went “down” into death for me so that I might go “up” into eternal life.  So I need to get rid of that worldly measuring stick once and for all!

Psa 30:3 O Jehovah, You have brought up my soul from the grave; You have kept me alive, so that I should not go down to the Pit.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I also need to get rid of the measuring stick by which I feel that other Christians measure me. In the past, I have found that there is no one generally accepted measuring stick – each Christian denomination seems to have their own measuring stick using as a guide the various scriptures that each denomination has decided to follow, or not follow. One uses a measuring stick that says “you can’t eat this”. Another uses a measuring stick that says “you can’t wear this”. Yet another one uses a measuring stick that says that women can’t speak, teach or preach. ( I intensely dislike that particular stick). And there are even some that use measuring sticks that say “it’s all good. Everything’s ok as long as you are a nice person and don’t hurt anybody else”. It is a veritable forest of measuring sticks out there! No wonder I get confused and conflicted!

I need to chop down and burn all those confusing measuring sticks and only use the one that really matters – the gold standard of Jesus Christ. That is the only one by which God uses to measure me. That may sound very daunting, but it is a measuring stick that has been painted by the blood of Christ –  painted in love, by love and for love. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, I “put on” the blood of Christ which was shed for me, for the remission of my sins. My sins are covered by Jesus’ blood – God can no longer see them. So when God looks at me, He sees the blood of the sinless Christ. When the measuring stick of Jesus Christ is held up, I am right there with him. And I can have peace and joy knowing that I finally “measure up”!

Col 1:20 And through Him (Jesus) having made peace through the blood of His cross, it pleased the Father to reconcile all things to Himself through Him (Jesus), whether the things on earth or the things in Heaven.

So my lesson to myself is that I have to stop being a people pleaser – that only brings me down. (this includes trying to please other Christians)

What I MUST remember is that God sees me, the real me, through His eyes of love, as manifested in Jesus Christ. God sees me, and He loves me, and He thinks that I am beautiful. He is pleased with me. That is all that really matters, and that truth is where I should get my self-worth.

Mar 1:11 And there came a voice from Heaven, saying, You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Happy thought – since I am in Christ and Christ is in me, God is pleased with me too!

Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!”

Rom 8:38, 39 For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Note to self – read this several times a day and get it into my thick head!)