Breaking Up With People Pleasing

I got the call months ago - or it was more like an email. Will you speak on this Sunday?  Will you speak on this topic? Per my usual, I said yes right away.  I'm honored and humbled that my pastor trusts me with the people of our church. I am touched that my pastor spends time on developing my speaking gift. I said yes - no questions asked. 

And then, I took a look at the topic. PEOPLE PLEASING.  Anyone who knows me knows that I struggle with pleasing people. I don't take constructive comments so well. I rehash my conversations. And while I can say no - I sometimes feel the guilt of saying no. 

While I don't like to look for my enemies under every rock, I somewhere wondered if the topic selection wasn't on purpose Mr. Pastor? 

People pleasing is not my strong suit. What about you?  For your benefit, I've collected a list of "you might be a people pleaser.." images. 

#1 Are you always happy with everything? 

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#2 Never say what you want

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#3 Offer to do things you don't want to do

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#4 Get so used to going along with other people you don't know what you like or who you are anymore

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While we can laugh at the cartoons, is any of it a little true?  True confession. That Friday night conversation happens weekly with me and another friend on where we'll eat out.  

So, what's a girl to do with all this people pleasing? 

Such a great question.  The reality is that pleasing those we love is not wrong. But it becomes a fine line we cross when it comes to pleasing people in an unhealthy way. When we live to please other people, we can miss God's purposes in our lives.  Or as Mr. Pastor said...

We can’t be liked by everyone and be effective at anything.
— Phil Santillan

As I studied this week and continue to add and replace to my message, I realized a few things about people pleasing.  The antidote is to live for an audience of one - to live to please God first.  But what else is there? Are you ready for my observations? 

We get to choose our audience

With every decision we make, we are choosing our audience. Will you and I live to please people or will we live to please God?  Pleasing everyone is impossible...

  • People all want different things

  • People sometimes want the wrong things for us

  • People pleasing is destructive as we juggle all the expectations. 

When you and I start to live intentionally, we can make a decision moment by moment to not worry about what others think, but choose to be focused on what God thinks. 

My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
— 1 Corinthians 4:4

Let's let God be our judge and choose to please Him as our audience. 

Become friends with the word no

I don't know about you, but the word no has proved elusive. For me, I like to be easygoing. So when asked to do things, I tend to say yes - without thinking. But before I know it, I'm regretting my yes and wishing I said no more. 

For many of us, we feel guilty saying no. We feel the need to explain why we're saying no. But when we want to break up with people pleasing - saying no and not feeling a need to explain ourselves becomes our constant companion. 

Say yes and no according to your priorities and what God's purposes for you are.  Feel free to say no without an explanation. And the challenge your friends who require one - you'll be glad you did. 

Let God define you

If I'm gut-level honest with myself, I realize I fret about what others think because I'm not confident in my own identity all the time. While my brain knows that God defines me, that I'm a child of God and don't need to prove anything to others - my heart wants a tangible in this life. I want to know that I'm enough in the eyes of others. I want to know I did things right the first time. That I've done a great job. 

While the opinions of others I love is important to me - they don't define me. God does. My word for the year is WOVEN and I'm working on embracing myself just as I am - without performing or pleasing others. And I wonder, if we all stayed in touch with God - if we all relied on pleasing God first and not worrying about the rest - how our lives would change? 

I'll let you in a little secret. I don't have this mastered. How Sunday is going to go is anyone's guess. I'm still learning because people pleasing a real struggle for me. But here's what I know: I can't go wrong with pleasing God first. And you can't either. 

I know I'm not an expert here - so I'd love to hear from you. What tips and tricks do you have for breaking up with people pleasing? Let's start a conversation and help each other please God first in all things.