The Harsh Truth about being a People Pleaser

Do you know what you get when a recovering control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser? You get crazy and hurt.
Are you a people pleaser?
Know what you get when a ‘recovering’ control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser?


And it’s messy and hard. And makes me completely crazy! Doesn’t do much for my family either.

God’s been working on this area of my heart for some time now. I’m finally ready to grow past this selfish need to be perfect in everyone’s eyes.

That’s right, selfish. People pleasing is at its root self-centered, worrying about what others think all the time.

Harsh truth about being a people pleaser? It's selfish, proud, and sinful. #peoplepleaser Click To Tweet

It sounds so selfless, being intentionally considerate as much as humanly possible, weighing the feelings and needs of everyone, trying to make sure people feel loved and important.

Phew! Honestly, it’s exhausting.

and it’s crap.

Trying to be perfect isn’t selfless; it’s really pride.

In my arrogance, I felt like the happiness of everyone around me was my responsibility. If I failed as a person, then I failed as a witness for Christ.

And my human failings cause me to stumble. The weight of all this self-imposed stress drags me under the swirling waters of life, and my emotions get the better of me – what I intended doesn’t come out right at all.

Then I’m left running this crazy dialogue in my head, “How did this happen?  Is this MY fault?”

I strangle myself with guilt over having failed someone unintentionally and damaged my value in their estimation.

When in fact, I damaged my witness more through my false perfectionism than I ever could in my humble brokenness.

And I was taking responsibility for things that were not mine to own.

Being a people pleaser detracts from our true identity.

Being a people pleaser is exhausting and detracts from our true identity in Christ. Click To Tweet

My sole responsibility is owning my identity as a child of God.

John 1:12 ESV  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

God has convicted me that all I’m supposed to do is strive to live pleasing Him, continually growing in gentleness and humility, wisdom and discernment.

Colossians 3:12 ESV  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

As I change, some will be so pleased and encouraged by my righteousness and gentle spirit. Some won’t be pleased at all. That’s okay.

Jesus didn’t please everyone. He lived a peaceful, sinless life that made some people hate him all the way to the cross.

Because you can’t really please people.

We misunderstand, fail to communicate, and filter our thoughts through our own human brokenness and perspectives.

So the harsh truth about being a people pleaser is – that it doesn’t work, and it’s not our job to please people.

Do you know what you get when a recovering control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser?

Often, when I try to please people on my own, I end up hurt and rejected, wondering what happened.

One of these days, I hope I’ll truly learn that apart from Christ I am wholly incapable of bearing His fruit.

The harsh truth about being a people pleaser is that it's not our job to try to please PEOPLE. Click To Tweet
John 15:5 ESV  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Only abiding in Christ and His word releases me from my hamster wheel of doom; because in Him alone can I find the peace of knowing His truths over human feelings.

I can’t force anyone to love or respect me, accept my apology, see my perspective, or be my friend.

I have to do my best to humbly try to please God, knowing He loves me from the inside out.

And let the rest go. That isn’t my side of the equation.

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When People Disappoint

We can be so surprised when people disappoint us. We stand there with our pretty picture shattered and say now what? What do we do when people disappoint?

We know people will disappoint us, but we can be so surprised when we are standing in that place.

Oh, that moment is so crushing. Staring in the face of incontrovertible evidence that someone you love fell short today.

Your picture of that person was cracked or shattered in one fell swoop. Maybe the picture of your relationship cracked too, or your perception of yourself through their eyes changed.

Maybe you sensed it was coming, but often, one final straw finally drifts into place and our relationship is on the chopping block.

I’m right there with you. Earlier this week, I wrote about how weary I am, and part of my weary is dealing with some difficult relationships. Long distances, text messages, awful choices, and busy schedules all contribute to how we disappoint each other, and I’m struggling with tough places in a few different relationships.

Here is where I’m resting today.

People always disappoint.

We can be so surprised when people disappoint us. We stand there with our pretty picture shattered and say now what? What do we do when people disappoint?

Because we’re flawed and human, All. Of. Us. We are going to disappoint each other, in little ways and big ones, at some point.

I have to stop being surprised when people are human.

Stop being surprised people are human. Restore them in gentleness when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

In that moment when the disappointment is raw, put yourself in their shoes. Giving them all the benefit of the doubt, what do you think they were thinking?

What do you think they are feeling now facing your disappointment? How can we meet them in Christ where they are?

How we handle the moment of disappointment may speak louder than anything else we do.

Galatians 6:1 ESV  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

What does it look like to restore someone in gentleness and avoid the temptation to sin ourselves?

First, I remember my own failures and God’s grace for me when I don’t deserve it.

I have yet to survive one day without failure. Offer grace first when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

I’ve been reading 1 & 2 Samuel recently. I’m blown away by how these familiar stories speak new wisdom to me today. The stories of Saul and David say so much about how to act when people disappoint us.

Saul was God’s anointed king for Israel, but (1 Samuel 18) in his sin, he fell from God’s grace, becoming paranoid and selfish, plotting to kill David.

David is disappointed, heartbroken, his king, his God’s anointed, wants him dead for no failure of his own.

David twice finds Saul served to him by God’s hand, in the cave (1 Samuel 24/26 ) and in his camp asleep, but instead of letting his hurt and anger rule him, David chooses to show Saul he could have killed him, but did not.

David takes steps to protect himself, but sees Saul’s sins are really against God, not himself. He is dismayed and saddened, without seeking to return hurt for hurt.

TWICE, David spares a man who is murderously plotting against him without cause, leaving Saul’s fate in God’s hands.

Twice? why?

To prove to Saul that he really was blameless (David’s righteousness made Saul’s sins more glaring.), but also as an example of how we are to continue in righteousness continuously, even when offense is piled upon offense.

So I’m still disappointed. I have hurt feelings, there is lost trust, and some of my relationships may not be restored right now.

But my focus has to be on God who never disappoints and staying righteous in His eyes.

I have to remember my emotions are nothing compared to God’s ability to rebuke or restore, forgive and sanctify. I can wait on Him.

Protecting myself is okay, but I should avoid returning sin for sin.

Letting God rule my heart even in the midst of big disappointments isn’t always easy. I get angry; I hurt. Indignant doesn’t look good on me, but in my own sin, I disappoint people all the time. I’m not usually trying to fail when I do.

If I hope for grace, I have to offer it too. Recognizing my worth and value in God’s eyes is immutable gives me pause to connect their failures with human nature, and offer a chance to explain, to understand, to apologize.

In the end, I guard my own walk with Christ and forgive them.

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