Freedom to Hear God, Part Five: People Pleasing Continued…
Missed Part Four? Click here.
So far, in this lesson on people pleasing, we learned that approval addiction is not rooted in love, but rather fear and pride. We learned that a person bound by people pleasing will not be able to hear God’s voice clearly and will be hesitant to obey when he or she does hear God. We learned a few questions we can ask ourselves to properly identify this “weight” in our lives. And we learned that I have a tendency to be psycho (we pretty much already suspected this, but now it’s confirmed.)
So today we are going to talk about breaking free. That’s right. Today’s the day we make a fresh start, take those first steps and liberate ourselves from this heavy addiction.
1. First, we must realize this, and really, really let it sink in: Not everyone will like us or love us. Ain’t gonna happen. Ever. Those who do love us will never fully love us the way we need to be loved. Only God can do that. He is, by definition, perfect love. There’s nothing wrong with this situation, with us or with them. God created us like that on purpose. Why? So we will cling to Him. If we got all of our needs met apart from God, then we wouldn’t need God.
2. We must know this, too: Not everyone will agree with or approve of how we live our lives. There will always be someone who thinks what we are doing isn’t the best choice. Let’s just agree to simply seek God’s approval. He approves of us solely because we are His. His approval never depends upon what we do or don’t do, but completely on what He did for us. That is a really hard pill to swallow, especially for those of us who cut our spiritual teeth on the pew of legalism (that is a very strange metaphor, isn’t it.)
3. It is highly probable that people care less about our performance than what we give them credit for. At the height of my people pleasing days, I projected my fear of rejection onto a lot of people who probably had neither a clue nor a care about what I was doing. After I moved to Florida, I remember worrying about what people in Ohio would think about certain decisions I was making—people I had not seen or spoken to in years. That’s warped. Even when I did step out and start setting healthy boundaries, I found the backlash was much less severe than what I feared. And my freedom ultimately liberated others—people I didn’t expect to be liberated—as they witnessed me taking a new stand.
4. We must look at Jesus as our ultimate example. Read through the gospels and notice how many times Jesus displeased people. Not only did people not like Him…they hated Him enough to kill him! Yet, He lived a perfect life in the center of the Father’s will. He lived a balanced life of service and boundaries. He ministered, but he also rested and prayed.
5. We must fix our gaze directly before us, not looking around at what everyone thinks about our performance. Chapter 4 of the book of Proverbs is one of my favorite chapters, and one I read over and over when I was working on this people pleasing thing.
6. We must learn to say no to things we clearly know we should not do. The first no is always the hardest, but it gets easier! Practice. I remember asking my husband to quiz me. He would ask me a series of questions that I really struggled with, pretending he was a person I had a terrible time refusing. I practiced saying no politely, but firmly, without overly explaining myself. I learned to have a few word tracks handy. You’re welcome to borrow them any time you need them:
8. For me, it was very important to distance myself (temporarily or permanently) from certain controlling relationships. I started by deciding that I was no longer going to share the details of my life with these people. And I most certainly stopped asking for advice from certain people. Then I worked on establishing healthy boundaries around my home, my family, and my time. It was a process.
9. I asked God to give me a godly friend who would hold me accountable. For me, that was my husband. But I realize a spouse may not be the best choice for every person, especially if the spouse is the one you are trying to please all the time. Ask God about it. He will be faithful to bring godly people into your life. Just be sure it isn’t someone who struggles with the same thing, and definitely not someone who has attempted to control or manipulate you in the past. Look for someone who is completely free in this area, and someone who will go to God on your behalf.
10. After I incorporated all of these things into my life, I discovered the beauty of these two words: ”Oh well!” I highly recommend it. It’s so liberating! I say those often to myself or out loud, when I sense someone’s disapproval of me. It’s especially comforting when I know I’ve heard God and I’m in the center of His will. I know with assurance that He’s got my back. I don’t need to be swept away emotionally every time someone gives me that disapproving tone or look.
11. Pray the Word of God. Praying God’s word is one of the most effective and powerful ways to solidify Biblical truth in your heart. I’ve written a prayer for this very thing, based completely on scripture. I let you borrow this, too!
I come to you today asking that you help me lay down the weight of people pleasing, knowing that if I am trying to please people, I am not your servant. Though there may be opposition to my decisions, I pray for pure motives. I speak as a woman/man approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. Test my heart so that I do not try to please others, but You only, Lord. I will never put on a mask or use flattery or seek praise from men; but instead love others so deeply that I will be delighted to share with people not only the gospel, but my life as well. I will deal with others in a holy, righteous, and blameless way, as I encourage, comfort and urge them to live a life worthy of You.
Because I hear and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, I refuse to follow the voice of a stranger. I listen closely to and pay attention to what You say to me. I do not let your words out of my sight, but keep them within my heart. For they are life to me and health to my whole body. I let my eyes look straight ahead, and fix my gaze directly before me. I make level paths for my feet and take only ways that are firm. I do not swerve to the right or to the left, and I keep my feet from evil.
Jesus, help me be more like You in all ways, especially the way You always did what was pleasing to the Father, despite the fact that many people disapproved of You, hated you, and ultimately crucified You. Help me seek approval from You, and You alone; for when I do, I will be completely free to hear your voice and love others the way You’ve commanded me to love.
In Jesus’ Name I pray…amen.
For Part Six, Click here
fear, pride… I knew the fear was there. A little blind sided by the pride, but after an honest look, it's there, too. I am caught right in the middle of all this people pleasing even as I read this tonight. I feel the need for boundaries and separation, not such an easy task with family I presume? I will continue to go to God for my "daily bread"… one day at a time, one situation at a time, one relationship at a time.
Thanks, Sandy, for this series…
I think. ;o)
Great, helpful series. Thank you.
I'm an extreme T on the MBTI scale (are you familiar with it?), so I don't worry much about what people think, and I passed along that attitude toward my children who sometimes ran into problems, such as the principal who told my handicapped fairly popular daughter: "You just think you have friends. Most kids don't really want to play with cripples." My daughter was able to shrug it off with "he doesn't know what he is talking about" and "if he has trouble with having a handicapped kid in his school [he did not want any handicapped children in his school], it's his problem not mine" and "if some of the kids don't want to play with me, that's okay; there are plenty of other kids who do." It saved her sanity a lot, I think, knowing that it was not necessary to try to get people to like her. She could just be herself. (On the other hand, when I heard his comment, I confronted him, and he knew he was in trouble!)
In business, if you try to please everyone all the time, you often end up pleasing no one at all. I teach this to new managers. The only one who can judge us is God, and that is indeed a liberating thought. The funny thing, though, is that once you stop trying to please people and follow God's rules, you garner a lot more respect as a by-product of worshipping God than you garner by trying to cultivate it as a direct product of your work. People notice. A priest I know often asks: "If someone knows you, would they want to know your God?" If your answer is yes, then you are listening to God and not to man. Thanks for the interesting posts.
Sweet Sandy, WOWzer, what anointed insights! With most women I know, this is a HUGE area of concern. One I know nothing about of course. * cough *
Seriously, well written, extremely well laid out and very practical. Hope the word gets out!
WOW! What an awesome post. I especially loved the examples of how to say NO! I really needed that. But the whole post is overflowing with wonderful Biblical advice. Thanks!
Found you through Laura Lee's RT and can't wait to keep up with you!
Wow, wow, wow! Found you through Laura Lee and am so glad I did! I went back and read the series from the beginning. Nice of you to write a series just for me – LOL!
This is wonderful and something that I have only recently realized is a problem and have been saying "no" a lot more over the last few months. I am currently stepping back from some volunteer duties to really focus on my household and homemaking, which is what I feel that God is wanting me to do. But of course I feel guilty and question whether I'm doing the right thing because we are supposed to serve!
Thank you so much for all of your great advice!
Loved this…especially your closing prayer….
I love most of this but the thing I have an issue with is telling someone that you need to check with your husband when you are in reality just trying to buy yourself time. That is an out and out lie and I don't see God honoring that.
I DO agree with the overall idea of creating distance and not being rushed, I just see no need to lie to do that. If someone is asking you to make a decision right then and there, either make the decision or explain to them God is dealing with you on making decisions to fast and you need to wait because God is working on you in that area but don't toss your husband under the bus.
Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate your opinion…but just to clarify, I would never advocate lying to buy time. When I said those were my "auto responses" I meant that I really DO check my calendar or with my husband.
You are right…I don't think God would honor lying in this situation.