“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians [1:10]
People-pleasing! It is epidemic among women. No matter what a woman’s age, background, or social standing is, she longs to be loved and accepted by others. While this desire is natural, it becomes sin when the desire controls a woman’s life. People-pleasing inhibits freedom because it keeps us bound up trying to please others instead of Christ.
In Galatians [1:10], Paul draws a clear line in the sand. The primary focus for the believer should be pleasing Christ, not others. Paul provides his life as an example. His life demonstrates how we should live lives that reflect a Christ-centered approval process. I must admit that Galatians [1:10] is near and dear to my heart. This is true because I have struggled with people-pleasing most of my life.
As a pleaser, I wanted everyone to like me and affirm the direction of my life. This desire resulted in an unhealthy behavior pattern. When it came time to make a decision, I went to others for direction. Instead of filtering their advice through God’s Word, I found myself trapped by all the advice I received. I thought I had to follow every piece of advice or risk hurting someone’s feelings. This trap felt so tangible that it often produced feelings of anxiety inside of me. Little did I know that I was being controlled by the desires of other people. Thus, I was striving to please others instead of striving to please Christ.
Often the people we long to please are close to our hearts—our parents, spouse, friends, coworkers, children, church leaders, or boss. When our desire to please Christ supersedes our desire to please those around us, we have a healthier perspective.
If you struggle with an unhealthy desire to please others instead of Christ, consider taking the following steps.
- Stop seeking advice from others. Take a break from asking other people what you should do in life. Instead, use your time to talk to God.
- Saturate yourself in God’s Holy Word. Know His Word and allow the Bible to guide your decisions.
- Surround yourself with godly people who will hold you accountable on this important issue. Share your struggle of people-pleasing with a close friend or family member. Be honest with them and let them know you long for freedom in this area of life. When you go to them for advice, encourage them to ask, “Have you prayed about this?” or, “What does God’s Word have to say?” If you have not prayed about the decision, or if you do not know what the Bible has to say, stop talking to others and start praying.
I promise you there is nothing like freedom in this area of life. As you allow the Word of God to become your standard, clear instruction takes the place of unclear opinions. The result? Your desire to please Christ will supersede your desire to please others. No longer will you be bound up by an ever-changing system of thought that is dictated by the desires of others. Rather, you will experience a desire to embrace Jesus’ thoughts, plans, and desires for your life. The benefit of a Christ-centered approval process is fellowship with God. As you turn to the Lord and ask Him what you should do, you will experience a close fellowship with the Lord as He becomes your best friend. Dear friend, if you are caught in the trap of people-pleasing, know that freedom is available today!