People Pleasers

I don't like to disappoint people.
I don't like to make people upset. 
I want to give people what they want when they want it and how they want it! 

To be honest with you, I want to please those around me, so when I can't do that, it troubles me! It worries me! I've gone to bed too many times with a heavy heart, knowing I've disappointed someone. I've lost sleep too many times, with someone "living rent-free in my head!"

To those who have this struggle, I'm with you! I understand. As long as I can remember, I've battled with being a "people pleaser". It's not easy. I hate to say "no", even when the answer is blatantly obvious.

Because I feel so weak in this area, it's something I've often had to pray about and seek God's grace about. As my life has become busier and I've been given more responsibilities, I've had to face this. I can't just push it under the rug anymore. As much as I've wanted too, I find myself unable to dodge it. Working at a shelter, with all the decisions I have to make, I often feel uneasy, because I cause some people to celebrate, others to despise me, others to get angry and others just give me that stare of disappointment.

The truth is, for me, it's not an easy burden to carry. I've discovered being a "people pleaser" can be very unhealthy. I've discovered, even when we try and please everyone, we still hurt people and put ourselves through unneeded stress. 

About a year ago, this one guy did something that justifiably got him put out of the shelter. He came to me and begged for mercy. I faced a dilemma, I couldn't please everyone, half of my staff and some clients thought he should stay away, while the other half of my staff and some clients wanted me to let him back. Both sides thought they were right and both had good reasons.

I had to make a choice! Ignoring it was still a choice. I ended up choosing mercy and let him come back, and as a result, some people were angry, others were disappointed, some didn't care and others were overjoyed.

Even when we think and pray over our decisions, we affect others! Even when we choose mercy, we can cause anger! Even when the outcome produces success and healing, some folks will be disappointed and will hold a grudge. It's important to remember, we cannot please everyone and we never will.

So, time and time again, I've had to ask myself, "What does the scripture say about being a people pleaser and how do we live in a way not to live in constant condemnation?"

Tonight, I want to look at 2 verses that have helped me. These verses may seem contradictory, but they have both encouraged me not to give up when I know I'm making people angry and disappointing others. They help me know I can't please everyone and that God doesn't expect me too either. 

The first verse comes from the Apostle Paul, he says in his letter to the Romans, "Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (12:17-18)

His words, "if it is possible, as far as it depends on you", shows us that our burden isn't to make everyone happy. Our responsibility is to do what we can, the best way we can, with what we have. Our burden is to do right. Our responsibility is to make every effort to seek peace with everyone, but the results won't always go the way we want them too.

Some people won't be on the same page with us. Others will tamper with our efforts. This verse also indicates that when we are at peace with some, those actions may disappoint others at the same time. The truth is, even when we do our best, we cannot make some people happy, so instead of fretting over this, Jesus calls us to lay this burden at His feet.

When we seek to do right and do our best to live at peace with everyone, God does not condemn us if we're holding up our side of the bargain. We can find peace in God knowing that we cannot change others, we don't have that power, we can only do what we can. 

Now I'm going to the second verse. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)

When Jesus used the word "righteousness", He was telling us to do right in His eyes, not the eyes of other people! Righteousness means making things that aren't right, right! Righteousness also means making things that aren't just, just! In Matthew 5:6 Jesus called His followers to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Jesus was calling His followers to have an intense craving and desire to make everything right and just in all our relationships and surroundings. His ways are not naturally our ways, so Jesus calls us to follow His example, by bringing Heaven to earth, by doing what God wants us to, by seeking first His Kingdom, wherever we may roam.

There's a catch to this, some people like this, but many won't. When we operate under the authority of Jesus, we cannot be "people pleasers". When we pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God, our first and foremost goal should be to please God, not others. Doing right brings persecution. It brings opposition. It brings hatred. I know this isn't easy, Jesus knew more than all of us that this isn't easy, He suffered and died as a result of bringing His Kingdom to earth. He wants us to follow His example, and when we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we become Jesus pleasers, not "people pleasers"! 

Look at the Gospels, when Jesus went around the countryside preaching the good news and healing the poor, mobs of people loved Him and flocked to Him. The people were pleased, they wanted what He had. Yet, even though He was bringing hope and compassion, opposite rose because He hungered and thirsted after righteousness. He brought a Kingdom that challenged their kingdoms of money and power. These haters wanted Jesus to conform to their ways, but Jesus made it clear He submitted only to God. Even though He was bringing Good News to all, certain people started hating Him and despising Him. This opposition and persecution took Jesus to the Cross. 

When we follow the example of Jesus, when we live the way He wants us to live, when we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, there should be no doubt in our minds that we won't and can't make everyone happy. It may be hard to deal with like it continues to be for me, but God calls us to have this intense craving after His righteousness, and therefore, we'll struggle, suffer and even be persecuted for it.

I live and work on the Northside of Chicago, in a homeless shelter. I do a lot of outreach. My neighborhood is a gentrifying neighborhood, which means a lot of rich folks are coming in and want to develop it, trying to push out those who don't look the way they want them to look. They don't want to see homelessness, or low-income housing, or people struggling with addiction or mental illness out their front doors. These folks aren't trying to help solve the issues, they just don't want them in their backyards. 

I tell you this because a few of us often go out and pass out mats, blankets, clothing and food to those living under viaducts. We also try and help them move from homelessness to housed. These small acts of compassion obviously help prevent people from getting frostbite and other life-threatening dangers, yet these "nimby" (not-in-my-backyard) folk complain and make life hard on us and, more sadly, those living outside. Mean and horrible things are said and done.

By pleasing some people, by seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness, we are causing others to rage! People pleasing traps us, not allowing us to freely move in the direction God's calls us too. If I sought to please these neighbors, I would be disobeying the call of Jesus to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and to show compassion to those He called "the least of these!" (Matthew 25)

This hostility and lack of compassion for those suffering is something that doesn't make sense, but it's a sad reality in Uptown. People foam at the mouth and lose sleep because others show compassion, buy tents, purchase food and give socks to folks living on the streets, and they feel completely justified in their anger. 

I tell you all this not to make you mad, (though it does that to me), but to encourage you. We will always have people around us who we can never please, but we all have to make a choice; to please God, or please those around us! To seek first His Kingdom or to seek the praise of people. We can't be swayed by the opinions and emotions of others because they will take us all over the map and they'll take us away from the heart of God. We need to follow the way of righteousness, of Jesus, and let Him be our guide, because when we do, He'll take us on an unbelievable journey.

I encourage you all, make every effort to please Jesus before everything else, because He is our Hope and Salvation!

A brief summary of why I wrote this: There's a ministry on the West-side of Chicago called Mission:USA; every Tuesday night they have a Church service called The BRIDGE. Their services are open to everybody, but especially those who find it hard to gel in their local congregations! Or to put into cruder terms; a lot of these men and women are ex-offenders, homeless and low-income folk who have felt ostracized and rejected by many churches, so their mission is to be a bridge between prison, the streets, and the Church. The Bridge helps these wonderful men and women find churches that will welcome them with open arms..... 
And isn't this exactly what the Gospel and the "Kingdom of God" is all about? 

Every Tuesday night, The Bridge has a host team from a Church, who greet the guests and provide a meal. The guests anonymously submit questions about their "walk of faith", and staff from The Bridge pick out a relevant question. Meanwhile, they have invited 3 pastors from 3 different churches to come and give a 10-minute sermon each about this specific question or topic. In my humble opinion, this is a great concept and ministry, who's staff is very loving, compassionate and supportive to the "least of these".
This was a sermon preached on 11/29/16, in response to this question; People Pleasers
I have a lot to make up for in my past, so I’m always trying to please everybody. The problem is, I try and make one person happy, and then everyone else complains that I’m not doing enough for them. So I end up shining people on, telling them what they want to hear. Does God have a way out of all this? If I can’t please everyone, who should I try to please? I feel like I’m trapped, and I don’t know how to keep people from being disappointed in me.
Post a Comment

Popular Posts

It’s Political: My Own Self Realization

Uptown Trauma

I'm Grieving!

Uptown Gentrification and Housing Discrimination!

Getting Identification!