Hi, my name is Katie and I am a people pleaser… What is people-pleasing you ask, Merrian-Webster defines it as a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of his or her own needs or desires. These are the people who have an underlying urge to make others happy and be positively regarded. They go above and beyond to make others feel understood, loved, connected, and happy but in doing so they commonly overlook their own happiness and well-being. As stated at the beginning of this post, I find myself in this category. The need to please others and make them happy is something I have always struggled with and is something I am working on. Because of my urge to please others, I began to ask myself the age-old question. Is it pleasing to God when we aim to please people? Although many will say people-pleasing does not please God, I believe the answer is that it depends. There are some good and some bad that can come from the want to please others. The urge to please others can put us in line with a lot of what God teaches us about serving and being kind to others but it can also take our focus off of God and shift it to man. Although the Bible speaks of serving others and thinking of others as better than ourselves when we begin to focus solely on others we begin worshiping them instead of the one true God.
To determine if our people-pleasing is sinful we much take a hard look at our intentions for our actions. Are we attempting to gain something selfishly or are we doing it purely to make the other person happy? Is the want to please others outweighing the want to please God? In the right amount and with the right intentions people-pleasing is not sinful, but when we become obsessed with pleasing others and it becomes our primary focus, we lose sight of who we really should be pleasing, God. We began to sacrifice our own happiness and well-being just to please others. We allow them to judge our actions and control our emotions, giving them the power to become our God. Although God instructs us to serve and help others, He does not want us to allow that to pull our focus off of Him.
For many people including myself, pleasing people comes from a place of insecurity and is rooted in the need to gain the approval of others. I want to be liked by everyone and that causes me to put myself in situations where others get the best and I leave myself with whatever is leftover. Since I hate letting people down or upsetting them, I go above and beyond to do what they want of me even if that is not what is best for me. As I stated before, I am a work in progress and I am attempting to help others without sacrificing myself for their happiness. I have learned over the years that I can never please everyone, there is always someone who will find a fault in what I am doing, and even if I make everyone else happy I have sacrificed my own happiness getting there. People-pleasing may look selfless but when we get down to the root can have very selfish intent. When the goal of pleasing people is to be liked and to be thought highly of we are being selfish.
Another side effect of people-pleasing is we only tell others what we think they want to hear and not the full truth. We can see this in some preachers who only teach “good time Jesus” but never teach on the pain and suffering that Christians will have to endure on earth. They want to build the church but place the foundation on the sand and not the rock. We are not doing any favors by holding back the truth just to make people happy. Although the truth can hurt it is worse to keep the truth from someone just to protect their feelings.
What does God say about this? Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” We cannot serve two masters and we cannot please both God and people. When we place others before God we have lost our way and are focusing on the wrong thing. We are no longer serving God as we are supposed to. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” We are called to teach the truth and love others which sometimes leads to stepping on some toes. It is better to hurt someone’s feels than to try to please them and miss out on the opportunity to share God’s love. People can judge our actions but only God can judge our hearts and our true intentions. At the end of time when we are at the final judgment will we be judged by man or God?
I challenge you to take a hard look at your intentions towards pleasing others. Are you doing it with holy intent or selfish intentions? Pray that God will show you how to serve others while keeping Him in focus.