October 4, 2010

Pleasing Others

Hello, my name is Gretchen, and I am a pleaser. Are you? If you are not, stick around because there is a good possibility that someone very near and dear to you is.

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.


Mom said...

My sweet one, I think there is some of the "pleaser" in all of us, but some of us hide it more because then when we are disappointed that we don't please others, we can hide that too. And that's just as wrong as being an obvious pleaser, looking to others for validation instead of to God. It's a lifetime struggle & one that I have laid down, picked up; laid down, picked up...
Let's pray for each other to look to please God first & most!
I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mrs. Sojourner said...

Thanks for being transparent. I needed to hear this today.

Janet said...

Such a GREAT reminder of WHO we need to please each and every day. How different would we ALL live if we woke up with that thought of pleasing only "an audience of ONE".

Thanks Gretchen!

Amber said...

You + Me = Kindred.

I'm a pleaser to my core. And I often find myself not pleasing the right One.

Thanks for always being real and honest. 'Tis why I big puffy heart you so incredibly muchly.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm Erin, and I'm a pleaser too. Such true words you've written today. Thank you for sharing them! Very helpful!

Looking forward to walking Wed. (You know, if that's okay with you :)

Anonymous said...

I most definately struggle with this---Thank you for your post---It was definately a needed encouragement!

The Lord Family said...

Yep. Pleaser here. Sometimes it get so exhausting. I've found that sometimes my perceived fear of receiving disapproval inhibits my ability to accomplish anything.

Terri said...

It is so hard not to be a pleaser, seems ingrained. How wonderful to know that God knows and loves us on our pleasing and not so pleasing days. Thanks for your words.

Laura said...

Thank you for your encouragement and wise words that its not about pleasing others, but about pleasing the only one who matters, God. I heard it again today in Bible Study which tells me God is clearly trying to tell me something. When my love is focused on being poured into the Lord, that love for Him will overflow to my family and then to others. Naturally, not forcefully.

anthonyandbeth said...

been a people pleaser for most of my life and continually have to lay it down. thank you for your post!!!

Kellie said...

I have so lived what you wrote. I have been learning in the past year the same things you shared. The Lord has helped me see the only person I can control is myself and I can't please the whole world. As long as I am pleasing Him, that is what matters most. Great thoughts!

Bo said...

My super wise college roomate and I used to talk about personalities of people we were dating. She'd say, "He's so stubborn, but good part is he doesn't compromise on principle." I'm guessin your self proclaimed pleaserness is also peacemakerness. (And that is a very blessed thing say the beatitudes). :) enjoying your site as always.