“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 ESV
The tendency toward people-pleasing is one of the most hindering and even dangerous habits that Christians can slip into. Part of the danger is that we don’t even recognize its presence – or worse, we don’t really care whether we repent of it or not.
My use of the word “repent” might come across as strange because we usually see people-pleasing as merely an unhealthy habit, so it’s harder to admit that it’s actually sinful. I don’t mean that the desire to bring joy or pride to your parents, your spouse, or other important figures in your life is wrong. But when our principal motivation is making other people feel a certain way about us – even for our doing things that would otherwise be good and commendable – we are in error.
When we fall into the habit of people-pleasing we are really exhibiting pride and idolatry. Not only are we obsessed with the opinions of other people, therefore, elevating them to a position that no human being truly deserves to hold over another, but we are also way too concerned with the idea of our own honor and glory.
Our culture is obsessed with crafting images. It’s easy to fall into the trap of people-pleasing in areas like our education, career, appearance, and even parenting, especially with the influence of social media (where others’ opinions of us are visibly measured in likes and follows). But if we took our eyes off our culture and off other people and set them on the eternality, power, and holiness of an Almighty God who knows all that we do and think and say (Heb. 4:13), we would care a lot less about what other people think of us. We would be a lot less willing to compromise on truth for the sake of relational comfort. And we would be enthralled with the idea of doing all that we do to please our heavenly Father, first and foremost. His love and good opinion toward us is infinitely more unshakable than what other people can offer.
Father, I’m grateful for the love You show me. I could never thank You enough for the good opinion that You have of me; that You look on me and see Your Son. Convict me when I idolize the opinions of others and am motivated by the thought of my own honor.
In what ways are you guilty of people-pleasing? Are you truly willing to sacrifice the pleasure of other people and the relationships in your life for the sake of truth and the glory of God? What are some ways in which the pleasure and approval of God is more worthy and reliable than the pleasure and approval of mankind?