I think I might have mentioned once or twice before that I tend toward being a people-pleaser. I know the traps. I know the pitfalls. I understand that I am setting myself up for failure. But, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with self-esteem. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t care about what others thought of me. I wanted to please. I wanted to be liked.
As I have matured, I have been able to shake some of that, but it still rears its ugly head on a regular basis. I still want others to think highly of me.
But such a desire can become problematic when it comes to surrendering in full obedience to Christ. People have a lot of ideas about how I can best serve God. Some even have ideas about whether or not I should serve Him at all. And often the advice regarding how my talents are best used in service to God seem awfully similar to how my talents might best accommodate the adviser.
Paul made a statement that frequently convicts me when I fall back into the people-pleasing trap.
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)… Galatians 1:1
Oh how much is packed into that one introductory verse! But, the one thing that convicts me the most is the phrase “not sent from men nor through the agency of man.”
Do I really and truly do what I do because God has commanded it? Or, am I more inclined to do it because I believe it will please the people who I believe to be godly?
Right now I have the privilege to interact and work with some really awesome people. People I look up to and respect. And as I put forth my share and portion of the work in each situation, I can’t help but wonder how my work measures up to their work. How what I do measures up in their opinion.
But when I start going down that road, I become paralyzed. I become unable to receive constructive criticism because I grow convinced that I’m messing up once again. I think if my work isn’t perfect in their eyes, their not going to want my input any more. I become convinced I’m a drain instead of an asset.
Do you see what’s happened? Do you see what’s revealed? It’s not really about people-pleasing. It’s really about me-fulfilling. I say I care about making others happy, but I truly only care that they are happy with me. It is probably the most self-centered attitude I could ever have, all wrapped up in the pretty package of saying I want to please others.
If Paul continually reminded the churches he wrote to that he was submissive to Christ and Christ alone, I can imagine it might be because he needed to constantly keep the thought before himself as well. He was constantly criticized, hated, run out of town, and condemned. If he did not continually remind himself that he was sent and instructed by God, imaging how paralyzed he would have been!
I hunger to be a constructive contributor to the teams I am blessed to be a part of. But, I am not commissioned by them. I am instead joyfully partnering with them. My work might not always be in line with the scope of those teams. But, my prayer is that it is always in line with the scope of God’s specific purpose for me. If it is, then he will take care of everything else.
And meanwhile, I’ll have the freedom to thoroughly enjoy glorifying God with some pretty amazing people!