I’m sick–with a people-pleasing disease. My symptoms include:
-Avoiding use of the word “no” in my everyday vocabulary.
-Physically cringing at the idea of letting others down.
-Filling my calendar with 27 hours worth of tasks within a 24 hour period.
-Having unrealistic expectations of myself; over-exaggerating my interpretations of others’ expectations of me.
-Anxiety through the roof.
-Gut reaction to “Can you..” is “Of course.”
But here’s the thing. This “disease” is not of God. He would never call me to such a destructive and unhealthy habit. In fact, God says no. He celebrates no. His no’s are beautiful, life-giving, wonderful no’s. He models heathy no’s for us in scripture and in our daily life. So why is it so hard for us to say that two letter word?
Society condems no. The world around us is fast-paced. Everyone expects immediate responses. Everyone craves instant gratification. We lack focus and drive towards one thing, instead dabbling in bits and pieces of a million different things. We share our lives on multiple platforms and function in a time where communication is virtually instant. Thus, we strive to been seen as perfect; we say yes to everything and everyone, no to nothing and no one. The only problem? We can’t do it. It’s physically impossible.
And we weren’t designed to do it all. God sets our boundary lines in pleasant places. Scripture tells us to let our yes mean yes and our no mean no. In Christ, we can find freedom from our unhealthy people-pleasing habits. We are called to do everything to the glory of God, to work as if we are working for the Lord not for man, and to live not to win the approval of others but to glorify our Father.
Christ–dare I say it–let people down. People wanted Him to come in and have an earthly reign, they expected Him to crush their oppressors, and they longed for Him to show them signs (on top of His already miraculous works). But Christ, in acknowledgement of God’s control and perfect plan, and in humble submission to His will, denied people these things they wanted of Him. He said, “no.” And what a beautiful no it was. Could you imagine Christ working only for the sinful pleasure of people rather than the holy glory of God? What a mess we would be in.
Thankfully, Christ said “yes, Father” to His plans. And because of that, His death and resurrection, we can enter into a relationship with Him. We can receive the gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit can enter us. By God’s sovereignty, by Christ’s humility, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to fight this people-pleasing disease. We can grow into children of God who are driven solely by the glory of God, rather than the pleasure of others. We can learn to listen to His leadership and say yes to the things He calls us to, and no to the things He doesn’t call us to.
Praise God that His plan for us isn’t to make humanity “happy” — but to spread the Gospel so humanity can experience true JOY.