I've been a pleaser my whole life. As far back as I can remember I have felt the burden of everyone's happiness on my shoulders. Not that I could actually make them happy, but I wanted to smooth the waters and do everything in my power to please. Even in the tumultuous teen years I sought to please my parents. Was I self absorbed like my peers? Sure, but the opinion of my parents was powerful enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.
As a young adult I sought to please my peers, in-laws, co-workers, parents, husband, fellow church members, and even casual acquaintances. Under the guise of being a pleaser, what I really wanted was their approval. Even as a young mom I wanted the approval of other moms, my children's teachers and anyone else that had a role in the development of my mothering skills. That was a hard job. I wore myself out trying to please everyone because the timeless saying You can't please everyone is undeniably true.
Funny how, in the midst of my "I want to please everyone" I didn't stop to think about what God thought of my pleaser-mentality. It has taken me thirtymumblesomething years but I am learning that I CANNOT please everyone. I cannot gain their approval. Even the people who have known me the longest will never approve of me all the time. So where have all of the years of "pleasing" gotten me? Do my peers approve of me any more than others who are not pleasers? No. Do my parents approve of me more than my non-pleaser brother? No. Do half of the people that I come into contact even care if I am a pleaser? No.
My search to please (and gain approval) comes from an attitude of seeking significance from people. The only place that I will ever find true significance is in the approval of my heavenly Father. 1 Thessalonians 2:4b says:
We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts.
When I try to please others I am handed judgement, criticism, and possibly rejection. On the contrary, if I seek to please God he already knows my heart. I don't have to worry if He will misconstrue my motives and actions. He knows and he loves me.
I have and will continue to face criticism and judgement my entire life. -A pleaser's greatest enemy.
Do I want others to be happy? Sure.
Am I going to become confrontational? Um. No!
Am I going to allow others' approval motivate me? I am choosing to answer no.
The Lord and I have wrestled with this for a long time. I am ready to throw in the towel and surrender my need for approval. He is enough.
Are you a pleaser?
How critical are you of the loved ones in your life?
Let's give both of those to the Lord today.