Are You A People Pleaser? Part 2

If you struggle with being yourself because of the people around you, or if you’re like me and are terrified to say no, then this post is for you. People pleasing is a problem and frankly it’s all too common. If you read last weeks post then you have (hopefully) started identifying symptoms of people pleasing that you may have. For those that didn’t, check out how you can here.

Now, let me be clear about this, I am not talking about loving people. As Christians we are called to love one another, however don’t use “I just love people” as an excuse to continue living to please people for the wrong reasons. Jesus said love people, he didn’t say conform to others. Check out this video and see how Monica, from Friends, let others get the best of her.

Maybe you’re like Monica in this episode of Friends and you just want to get to know people, maybe you just want to be liked. The reality is people pleasing is usually linked to insecurity in some way or another. If you are consumed with what others think of you, then you instantly believe that they are better than you, that their opinions matter more than yours, and even worse, matter more than Gods.

This is a really good ploy that Satan uses against us, and why not?! It works incredibly well. From advertisements on TV, to the books we read, even from our own families, we are constantly told that we are not good enough, that we don’t measure up to the status quo our society has set. When we buy into these lies, we are lowering ourselves and instead,  lifting up the world around us. Doing whatever we can to reach that status.

I think another big reason we buy into people pleasing is because we forget who we are in Jesus. Now stick with me on this, don’t go rolling your eyes and laughing at my “Christian-ese, jesus juke” answer. I’m serious here. When we accept Jesus as our personal  Lord and Savior, we literally become NEW! We no longer answer to all the advertisements on TV, or the haters we come in contact with on a daily basis. We have a righteous judge far superior, and far more wonderful.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.    (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

Monica was exhausting herself trying to please her neighbors who didn’t even know her name. In fact they didn’t even care that she was slaving away for them, they just wanted their candy. Isn’t people pleasing a lot like that? When people are judging you, talking behind your back, etc. Do they really know you? Are they looking for your best interest like God has all along? Are we forgetting who really loves us? Like Chandler stuck up for Monica, God will always stick up for us. He is there and He is trying to remind us that we are people He loves. People who He sees the best and most potential in. People He is shaping and molding to be who He has always intended us to be. We need to remember that if we are insecure or forgetting who we are in Jesus, there is no hope to grow, move forward, or experience God’s best for us.

Next week when we wrap up our talk about people pleasing we will figure out how to go from identifying the root causes, to finally overcoming this issue of people pleasing that is all too real for many of us. But until then, let me know some ways you have overcome your struggle with people pleasing.

 

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Are You a People Pleaser? Part 1

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In the movie, Yes Man, Jim Carey takes on the challenge to say “yes” to everything no matter what. Needless to say the challenge gets him into all sorts of trouble. He finds himself in over his head.

It’s easy to sit here and say Jim Carey’s character in that movie was craaaazy, but don’t some of us do the same thing? Do you feel like you constantly need to say YES to everything? If you’re like me and say yes to everything then you’re probably a people pleaser. So tune in because in the next several posts we’re going to talk all about people pleasing; how to identify it, what it is rooted in, how to deal with it, and ultimately how to change it. You might be struggling with people pleasing and just don’t know what to do. Well, like I always heard growing up, the first step to any problem is admitting that there is one. There’s no shame, there’s no guilt, only bold and humble honesty with yourself. That’s a step in the right direction.

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In his book “Even if You were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You” Pastor Rob Shepherd compares people pleasing to identity theft. Here are some of the symptoms or signs of identity theft that he lists as well as some of my own:

  • Your personality changes, depending on who you hang out with (Shepherd, 8).
  • You make decisions solely on the opinion of others i. e. can’t leave the house without makeup because others will see the real you (8).
  • Cannot confess your sins to others because you’re afraid of being judged (8).
  • You’re afraid of confrontation because of how others might react to what you need to say.
  • You cannot stand it when people are upset with you, it consumes your thoughts.
  • You do and say things you shouldn’t because of your friends or the people around you.
  • You’re more concerned with what others are doing and writing on social media sites than your own life.
  • Your biggest concern is being liked or being accepted.

Like Jim Carey’s character I struggle with saying YES to everything and stretching myself too thin. Sometimes I convince myself others will be mad or hold it against me if I don’t say yes. Other times I just feel guilty saying no to people! Maybe you’ve made a mistake or several and you felt like you had to run away because of the way people responded. For me, the fear of what people thought, the pain of what people were saying, and my focus on others opinions almost drove me to leave the church I love! I would hide my feelings by saying I didn’t care when in reality those people and their opinions were consuming me and my thoughts! I couldn’t stand having people upset with me. I spent countless hours browsing over people’s status updates, tweets, and photos. Why? Because somehow I was convinced that viewing their lives was more important than living my own.

My life was consumed with pleasing people. I feared the displeasure of man more than the displeasure of God. You might not think that people pleasing is even that serious but the reality is that it’s real, it’s dangerous, and it’s a silent struggle most are either too full of pride to own up to, or oblivious to the fact that it’s even a problem in their lives.

In fact the bible makes some pretty clear statements when it comes to people pleasing:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)

So the question is are you a people pleaser? Do you feel the need to conform, change, or alter things simply for acceptance, or the approval of others? Answer that question honestly. We all should! Imagine how awesome it would be if we all acknowledged our struggle with people pleasing, and decided to work together to stop it.

My Prayer Game

Do you ever feel like you aren’t praying the right way? I do. To be fair
I feel that way about several things but with prayer it is different.
Prayer is so important that I think about it a lot more than other things.
Maybe you feel that way sometimes too, or maybe you are The Ultimate Prayer Guru.

In that case hit me up and teach me your ways Yoda! Seriously though,
if you struggle with prayer sometimes this post is for you.

One of the first books I read when I became a Christian was “Crazy Love” by
Francis Chan. The first chapter of that book is titled “Stop Praying.” Wait
what?! If you haven’t read the book that title can throw you off but if you
stick it out Francis makes us sit in awe and reflect on who God is before we
pray. Now some of you hardened Christians are probably scoffing; “I know who
God is, God is love, He is powerful etc. etc
.” I would likely agree with
those and most of your other adjectives about God. In fact according to Paul
with creation alone we “know” God (Romans 1:20). So maybe the question isn’t
do you know who God is. Maybe the question is do your prayers reflect who
God is?

So what does that mean? How can our prayers reflect exactly who God is?
I don’t have a black and white answer for that, but I do know what has helped me.
Stop for a second and think about the last couple of times that you’ve
prayed. Why did you pray? Was it for a loved one? For yourself? Career?
School? Stress? All of these things are important to pray for. In fact Jesus
said “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
(Matthew 21:22). I think we sometimes see this verse and others like it and completely miss the mark.

I know for a while I would treat God a lot more like a magical
genie than my Lord. But we have to remember who we are praying to. God isn’t a
magical genie we can call on whenever we need our wishes to come true. He is
the creator of the universe and I know sometimes my prayers don’t reflect
that. Maybe yours don’t either?

Another thing that I recently discovered (and it blew my mind) was from a
book by Richard J. Foster titled “Celebration of Discipline” recommended by
a pastor friend of mine. The book is all about the different spiritual
disciplines that we sometimes neglect. In the chapter about prayer, Foster
mentions that when it comes to praying for others maybe we aren’t praying
with strong faith. He points to the Apostles and the way they performed
miracles. Before telling a man to walk they didn’t say “If it be your will
Lord” they said “Stand! Walk” they said it with purpose, knowing that their
God, the creator of the universe, could do these things and so much more.
I know I was a participant of the If-It-Be-Your-Will prayers for a while.
My prayers were insecure and so was I. We have a God who can do anything;
we read earlier when Christ said “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

One of the toughest things I had to learn to do was be open and honest.
God is all knowing and all seeing. So if you pray, but skip all of the rough details about your sin and
struggles (I’ve been there) just know He already knows all about it. So why
not just save the “game face” or the tough guy routine and pour your heart
out to God.

A good example of this is King David, that guy was a warrior, the king, a tough guy, a real man’s man! Yet, he still poured his heart out to God. He pleads
“O God, you know my folly; the wrongs that I have done are not hidden from
you.” (Psalm 69:5) If pleading and crying out to God wasn’t too “sissy” for
David than I doubt that’s the case for you or I. Be open and watch how
pouring your heart out to God might just be what takes your “prayer game” to
the next level.

My final suggestion is probably the hardest of them all. Pastors like Craig
Groeschel have openly admitted to struggling with this particular area and I
know I have too. Probably the hardest thing I could ask you to try is
praying for those who have hurt you, those you don’t like, and those who
openly attack you. Some of you reading this have been hurt bad and the last
thing you could ever imagine is praying for the person who
caused that pain. Believe me; I understand where you are coming from. One of
the toughest things I had to do was not only forgive my father but pray for
him too. We may not be openly vengeful towards those who have wronged us but
when we come up with decent excuses not to pray for them it can be just as
bad. Jesus makes it clear where He stands on this topic. “But I say to you
who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who
curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28). I’m not saying
it’s easy, in fact your prayers might start of sarcastic “Lord please make
sure they don’t do anything stupid today.” I don’t know what it’s going to
look like, but I can promise that like my hatred for what my father did to me,
your hatred will kill you, it will not set you free, it will not alleviate
your pain, It. Will. Make. It. Worse. I promise you. In fact you’re more
likely to suffer at the hands of your hatred than the person you hate! The
devil has a party when we allow ourselves to make excuses for not praying
for those who have hurt us most. Because he knows it not only hardens our
hearts but it is the exact contradiction of what Christ told us to do.

It won’t come easily, it will take some time, but my prayer is that you will take the next step today and pray for that person who has betrayed you. Maybe that person is your parent who ruined your childhood, someone that abused you in a relationship or maybe you were bullied to the point where you no longer saw what God sees but what others told you that you were. Whatever the hurt, whatever the pain, start praying now. God will start to work in your heart and the hearts of those who have hurt you. It will be a game-changer.

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Imagine what your prayer life could look like. Imagine what would happen to
your relationship with God if you stopped treating Him like a genie, but instead
treated Him like the Lord you serve and gave your life too. Imagine people beginning to
pray like never before, people praying for things, praying through things and believing in their
prayers like they never have. What would this world look like if people
humbled themselves before the King of kings and poured their heart and soul
out like never before? What would this world look like if we actually took
the time to truly forgive someone, not just ignore their existence and call
it forgiveness but truly forgiving each other through prayer, the way God calls us to? What
would this world look like if we took hold of our prayers and stopped
tossing them up to God like second thoughts, but took time for meaningful,
deep and brutally honest conversations with our God? Imagine how much
differently this world would look.

What is something or someone you typically don’t pray for but probably should?