Tuesday, October 1, 2013

People pleasing or God-honoring?

I'm a people pleaser. 

By "people pleaser" I mean that I want people to like me.  How about you?  Do you want people to like you?  Sure you do.  We all do.  Humans are social creatures.  We depend on each other, and life is so much easier to navigate when we're liked.

In my life, there is a person that I want to like me.  And so I try to do everything that is expected of me in the context of this relationship.  It's nothing dangerous or immoral or even all that difficult.  The problem is the expectations are mostly unspoken.  And sometimes I don't even realize they're there.

But I try so hard, so very hard, to meet the needs of this person within the context of our relationship.  Because I want him or her to like me.

It all came to a crisis point several months ago, as I was trying so, so hard to meet all of those, mostly unspoken, expectations.  I was doing everything I could to please.  And I thought I was doing well, I really did.  And then I found out I wasn't.  I found out that once again I was falling short in the eyes of this person.

I was devastated.  Devastated.  I shed many heart-wrenching tears that night, and I poured out my heart to God.  Why, God?  Why can I never measure up?  Why do I always fall short?

And that's when I realized that I was never going to measure up in their eyes.  Seriously, how can I measure up, how can I meet their needs, when they won't tell me what they want from me?  And that realization, that I will never measure up, was actually quite freeing.

I thought back over the time we had spent together.   Had I done everything that was asked of me?  Yes, and more.  Had I kept the lines of communication open so that this person could verbalize their needs?  Yes.  Had I done everything I could?  Yes.  Was I an ambassador of God's love and light to this person? Yes.  Were my thoughts, words, and actions God-honoring?  Yes.  Well, at least until I decided to throw myself a pity party because my efforts had, once again, fallen short.

And that's when my second realization came.  I needed to stop trying to please this person and instead seek to please God within the context of our relationship.  I will never measure up in this person's eyes, but he or she is not the one sitting in judgment of me.  It's God's measuring stick that I need to be concerned with. 

I want to encourage you this morning, my friends.  There are probably people in your life to whom you will always be a bit of a disappointment.  There are probably people in your life whose needs you will never quite be able to meet.  I urge you, friends, to switch your focus.  Stop trying to live up to expectations you will never meet; stop trying to please people. Instead focus on pleasing God in the context of that relationship.

Isn't it wonderful, my friends, that we don't have to worry about pleasing people?  Sooo much easier to be God-honoring instead.

I know that my next step is to sit down for a conversation with this person.  I need to respectfully and lovingly tell them that I will be happy to do my best to meet their needs if they will verbalize their expectations.  But it's still so raw, it hurts so much, even these several months later, I don't know if I'm ready for that conversation just yet.  Pray for me, friends, that I will be ready when the time comes, and I'll pray for you.

 We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.
I Thessalonians 2:4b

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