“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
Recently, I challenged a friend of mine to brake the chains of the ‘shoulds’ in her life. She, like most of us, was overcommitted, overwhelmed, and stressed out. Most of her time was spent on others; taking care of her kids, being a good wife, taking care of the house, and volunteering for things at church and school. She rarely, if ever, did anything for herself. Guilt and obligation enslaved her. She was missing the joy of freedom that living in Christ has to offer.
I gave her homework one day after bible study. The homework was that she had to say ‘no’ to something that she didn’t want to do, simply because she didn’t want to do it . . . . OR, say ‘yes’ to something that she wanted to do, simply because she wanted to do it. And, she had to do this 3 times before the next bible study.
There was only one rule; there couldn’t be a logical reason to say ‘no’ like a schedule conflict, or she was sick, or because she was just too busy. She had to not do something simply because she didn’t want to do it. Sound selfish? For the Christ follower, its called living in God’s freedom.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Blessings abound when we walk with Christ. It is the blessing of freedom. Christ died to set us free; free from the yoke of pleasing other people; free from the yoke of doing everything that people ask us to do; free from the yoke of being responsible for other people. There is nothing greater than freedom in Christ.
I was a people pleaser most of my life. Never having been shown my true value in Christ, I grew up thinking that it was my job to take care of everyone else. We all had a lot in life, and this was mine.
I had to make people feel comfortable and at ease at all times. I was to keep the peace even when peace was not possible; even when peace was not appropriate. And, it was often at my expense. But, I truly believed that I was expendable. Just take one for the team, I would tell myself . . . . again!
Satan had me right where he wanted me; feeling worthless and being useless. He had me thinking that my only purpose was to empower others. He had been feeding me lies and I was ever so eager to believe them.
I am so grateful that God has set me free by setting me straight! He made you and me for a specific purpose in the Kingdom; something more than catering to the comfort of others; something more than just being a loving and supportive spouse; something more than raising children.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
My walk with God in the last 20 years has taught me how high and wide and long and deep is His unfailing love. He has been replacing the lies that I believed for so many years with His Word.
Can we say no to our mother? . . . . when the bible says this . . . “Honor your mother and father.” Exodus 20:12
Can we say no to a ministry? . . . . when the bible says this . . . “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Luke 10:2
Can we say no to our church? ” . . . . when the bible says this . . . “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God ” Ephesians 4:12-13
Can we say no to our husbands? . . . When the bible says this . . . “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands.” Ephesians 5:22
Yes, we can!
So, who do we need to please? . . . . God. Who is the only one that we always need to say yes to? . . . . God. God is the only one that we need to please, and He is already greatly pleased without us doing one single thing!
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
That doesn’t mean that we can say ‘no’ to those things all of the time. If we are to be obedient to God and His Word, than we must do these things some of the time. But, we are certainly not obligated to do them every time.
People pleasers just want to do the right thing. They are usually caring, selfless people. However, the right thing might be to say ‘no’. We need to be regularly in His Word to be able to discern.
Relationships, if they are true relationships, demand judgement and confrontation . . . . to faithfully live our life as a human being–to live as we were created to live–is to live in an open-and-closed relational connection to another.
God delights in us. And, He loves us with unfailing love. It doesn’t matter what other people think of us, or what we do. It’s who we are in Christ, or rather, it’s who He is.
My Bible study friend whom I gave the challenge to came back the following week and was eager to tell me what she did. She was like a kid in a candy store, with a grin from ear to ear. She beamed with the glow of freedom!
Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem? Isaiah 2:22