June 29, 2015
My three daughters are so precious to me and their fulfillment is one of my highest priorities. One of the greatest rewards of being a parent is seeing my kids happy, and if I am the one who is bringing them delight, that’s icing on the cake. I so love to please my three daughters. I also want to see them safe and healthy in every way, but especially spiritually. Consequently, when they make unhealthy or dysfunctional requests, it is easy for me to say “NO!” even though they aren’t pleased. In fact, they might actually be upset or even cry because of my answer, but that will rarely sway my decision.
Need a couple of examples? What about when they ask … for their third bowl of ice cream … for the keys to the car when they’re only 13 … to stay out until midnight on a school night when they’re 14 … to camp out with a boyfriend, alone, when they are 16. All these will easily get a “no” answer because I love them regardless of how displeased my dear daughters might be with that answer. Some people really struggle with saying no to their kids. In essence, they are not really loving their kids, but actually hurting them … but that is a different Stepping Stones devotional.
For some reason, it’s much harder to say “no” when a reasonable adult calmly makes a dysfunctional request. Why is it hard to say “no” to other adults? For me, it’s because I think they know more than I do about the situation they are discussing, or they seem to know what’s best for themselves more than I do, or I hate being uneasy when people are mad or upset at me, or I fear their rejection, or I need their approval or I need to be needed or accepted. These “I need…” and “I fear…” lenses come from a me-centered mentality. These distorted lenses significantly interfere with our perspective. And they lead to disrespectful, dysfunctional, unloving or even sinful relational conduct.
Trying to please people by acting dysfunctionally does not serve or please God. If we are truly His servants, then our primary goal will be to please God first, not others. The best choice is to respond to the request in a loving way that is consistent with God’s will, not the asker’s will or our fears or needs.
In the New Testament, we read about a rich, young prince who was impressed with Jesus’ teachings. He came to Jesus and asked, “Can I follow you?” Jesus didn’t fall into people-pleasing mode by saying, “Sure, love to have you.” Instead, Jesus told him to give up all his possessions, even though He knew the prince would be upset and feel rejected. Jesus responded consistently with God’s will, regardless of the other person’s feelings. He was speaking the truth, setting a Godly boundary and trying to grow the other person—all motivated by love.
Today, ask yourself, “What is my greatest need or greatest fear when someone makes a request of me or when I feel the urge and need to people-please in a relationship? Whom am I really trying to please: God or that person? Or am I trying to ease my own discomfort?” Maybe most of your life is lived to please God. But we all still have situations or people that trigger a people-pleasing response in us. God wants us to put Him first in all things. We cannot please Him by placing more importance on people’s opinions—or our own needs—over His. Whether you’re a God-pleaser or you’re a people-pleaser, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I do want to please You. Forgive me for the times I let my desire to be accepted by others outweigh my desire to please You. Thank You for Your love and for accepting me unconditionally. Help me to be a better servant, doing the right thing, not the people-pleasing thing, as I grow healthy relationships with others. Give me courage and peace to withstand the pressure I feel when others are displeased with my answers. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who was the perfect servant, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
“Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.” John 12:42-43