I used to be the world’s biggest doormat. Seriously! I was the world’s biggest people pleaser. It mattered to me sooo much that everyone like me, and I felt shame if someone didn’t.
I wound up feeling shame a lot. I tried to please people by wearing the right clothes. Inevitably, the outfit I spent a lot of money on went out of style. SHAME! A friend would ask my opinion and not like my answer. SHAME! I would do something to please one person, but that action displeased another person. SHAME! I would do something I didn’t want to do specifically to please someone, but by the time I did it, the person changed her mind, so I wound up displeasing her anyhow. SHAME!
Nowhere in the Bible are we told to please people. In fact, we are told just the opposite:
You adulteresses [disloyal sinners—flirting with the world and breaking your vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend [that is, loving the things of the world] is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ~ James 4:4
It’s not our job to try to please people. Our focus should always be on pleasing God:
Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ~ James 4:5-7
God’s ways are higher than man’s ways. In other words, they are different. Thus, we have a choice to make: Will we live our lives seeking to please people? Or seeking to please God? We cannot do both.
Ironically, since I stopped trying to please people and have only sought to please God, I have found favor with most people I interact with. The ones who take issue with me tend to be those who are self-absorbed and angry because I refuse to bend to their will. However, because pleasing God, by nature, involves humbling myself and valuing others above myself, I generally find much more favor with people without trying.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace frowning over the word, “Shame.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]