“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.”
People pleasing will be the death of me…..maybe both spiritually and literally. I’ve known that something is off - striving so hard to meet the demands at work for approval, “serving” my wife and family when selfishly I’m looking for the attaboy or recognition for what I’m doing, only choosing relationships that dole out approval, chocking up one more accomplishment. For what? To please someone else? To make myself feel good about what I’m doing?
Paul’s letter to the Galatians makes it crystal clear. Pleasing man and serving Christ are opposing forces at war with each other. I cannot have both. The context has changed in that the choices I face daily are not be about getting circumcised to meet the approval of others and their definition of what God wants. But the concept is the same, instead of choosing freedom from the law, I am a slave to my own laws of people pleasing and seeking acceptance and approval.
Growing up in my home, success was in academic and sports accomplishments, that’s how you received love, that’s how you won approval. That dysfunction and intense pressure to win approval looked like success on the outside, but caused eating disorders and alcoholism in my siblings. I am adult now and that people pleasing has taken on a life of its own – spending too much time at work instead of with my family, checking off the to do list and using it as relational currency instead of really leaning into relationships. At best the amount of stress I put on myself to please others and gain their approval will put me in the hospital. At worst it will prevent me from ever tasting the freedom that comes with being a servant of Christ.
It will probably be a lifelong war, much like the thorn that Paul describes. But I’m going to start by winning the battle today, and not let the “need” to achieve, please others and gain their approval stand in the way of the freedom of Christ.
Daily Battle Order;
Where are you on the scale of trying to please others, fit in, receive recognition and approval versus being a servant of Christ? Why is your to-do list so full of things that have nothing to do with being a servant of Christ, but have a lot to do with being recognized by others? One simple step is just to ask “why” and be honest with the answer. Why are you really investing so much time at work?