People Pleasing Vs. People Loving
People pleasing is a type of bondage. If Christ came to set the captive free, then why are so many of us stuck in the people pleasing snare? As someone who personally struggles with people pleasing, I believe it is because we are unwilling to trust God to work it out. It is difficult to give up control over situations where there is opportunity for rejection by peers. It is easier to try and “do it yourself,” which sometimes leads to people pleasing. Rejection is uncomfortable and, in order to avoid it, humanity is known to alter itself to fit the standards of a specific group. People pleasing may make you popular here, but it is not an eternal endeavor. The things of this world will pass away. It is more important to seek God first and worry about pleasing Him, not people.
Why then, do we as Christians, fear being outcasts? Jesus Christ himself was cast out but was used as the cornerstone for a great kingdom. We can’t expect to be loved by everyone, that’s just not how it works. Everyone has their own struggles with acceptance, but Christians should be more focused on the acceptance of God rather than gaining the acceptance of their peers. We were not created to be people pleasers. We were created to be God pleasers. If you happen to gain the acceptance of the “in-crowd” along the way, that is fine as long as your first priority is to serve God. His acceptance or denial is eternal. While in the moment, humanity’s approval may seem more necessary, that is FALSE. God is the only one that can give everlasting life. Without his grace, you are denied access into Heaven and sentenced to an eternity in Hell. I am not advocating a human works based salvation plan here, we can’t earn salvation. We have to believe that Christ died on the cross, taking our sins on himself and paying for them with death. That’s not the end of the story, however, as he trumped death by rising on the third day. By believing in Christ, the holy, perfect, Son of God, we will be given eternal life with God in Heaven. Jesus came to us first to start the relationship. He knew that we could never repay Him. But out of love, we spend the rest of our life serving Him.
Some of you may be wondering, “Well, aren’t you supposed to love your neighbor?” YES. Absolutely yes. But there is a difference in people pleasing and people loving. People pleasing entails changing yourself or your values so that you can fit in. It also includes constantly going out of the way to help people, when these same people do not seem to care about you unless you can give them what they want. This type of help and openness on your part is done to seek acceptance from the other person or group of people. With people pleasing, you are trying to better yourself in their eyes, which is exhausting and you will become guarded after being hurt a few times. People loving is remaining true to your identity in Christ and helping and loving others in the overflow of your love for Christ. There is a different kind of openness involved in people loving compared to people pleasing. In people loving, you are serving God first, and people second so your acceptance comes from the Lord. Loving your neighbor is helping them through life when it is within your power to do so. This may not always have to be in a tangible form, it may be in acts of encouragement or through prayer.
I know that it is a struggle sometimes to discern the difference between people pleasing and people loving, but the Bible offers encouragement to believers. It says in Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” This lifts my burdens and lightens my heart knowing that God will help me love my neighbor when I trust in Him. I am so thankful that He takes care of His children, and I hope that He uses this article to create people lovers from people pleasers.