Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). —Colossians 3:23,24
One of the most freeing things that I have learned in my years of walking with the Lord is how to break free from being a people pleaser. Now, I am not talking about living a healthy, unselfish life where we make the needs of others a priority. I am talking about a pressure to perform—an unhealthy drive to be accepted and approved by others. It is a desire so strong that it influences and controls the majority of our decisions.
I call this needing an “approval fix.” Like an addict who “needs” a certain drug, people pleasers have a need to be liked by other people. And when they can’t get their “fix”…watch out! The “withdrawal” symptoms kick in and they become unhappy, depressed and even angry.
How do I know this? I used to be one!
Here’s how to tell if you’re a “people pleaser”:
First John 2:27 says, “But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you….”
Are You Honest with Others?
One of the greatest signs of being a people pleaser is not being completely truthful with others about who we are. We say we like things we really don’t like. We go places and say we are enjoying it, when in reality, it is the last place on earth we want to be. And we nod our heads in agreement to things we don’t feel right about in our hearts. Instead of telling people the truth about our desires, feelings and thoughts, we develop a pattern of telling others what we think they want to hear in order to remain accepted. There are also times when people are dishonest about their true thoughts and feelings because they are trying to keep the other person “fixed” or happy.
Ephesians 4:15 says, God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love … (The Message). Verse 25 goes on to say we are to …put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbor the truth” because we belong to each other (NLT). And in Colossians 3:9, we are told, Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices . I think it is pretty clear: God wants us to be truthful with each other at all times in a kind and considerate way.
Do You Do Things Out of Duty or Desire?
Another big indicator that we are people pleasers is that we do things out of a sense of duty instead of desire. In other words, we do something for someone because we feel obligated, or it is expected of us—we are afraid if we don’t do it, others will get mad at us or think badly of us. But doing things because we feel forced to do them or are fearful of being rejected is doing things for the wrong reason.
Now, please understand that we do not have to want to do everything we need to do. There are some things that we are required to do, and if we don’t do them, problems develop. I may not want to or feel like cleaning my house, but if I never clean it, things will become disorganized, out of order, and very stressful. You and I may not want to do the laundry, but if we never do it, we will eventually run out of clothes to wear.
So there is a balance in this area that God will help us find. We just need to remove the pressure and expectations from others so that they do not feel obligated to do something for us. In the same way, we need to get out from under the pressure and expectations of others to do something for them.
Are You Constantly Sacrificing Your Own Legitimate Needs?
God may not show you the complete picture of what He’s calling you to do before you even get started. But He will guide each small step that you take.
Let’s look at Numbers 9:18. It says, “At the Lord’s command the Israelites journeyed, and at [His] command they encamped. As long as the cloud rested upon the tabernacle they remained encamped.”
I love that they didn’t try to go where God wasn’t leading them. Just imagine how much better our lives would be if we did the same thing!
You know, it’s not the end of the world when we make a mistake or get thrown off track because God will always help us ﬁ nd our way back. Don’t let your mistake mark the end of the road, but rather a road to a new beginning.
Think what a beautiful thing it will be to look back at your life and remember the journey you’ve had with God; to celebrate the ways He has worked in your life.
I want to share a bit of my journey with you because if you can see where I started in comparison to the ministry you see today, you’ll realize: There’s no way it could happen without God! But with God, all things are possible.
Do you remember those bubble trailers from the 1950s? Every time Dave and I see one of them, it really takes us back because in the early days of our ministry, that’s how we carted our ministry equipment around with us. Our crew was just me and Dave, and a guy who could sing and play guitar.
We held small meetings in St. Louis, Missouri. And when God said to go north, south, east and west, we got really bold and went to north St. Louis, south St. Louis, east St. Louis, and west St. Louis. We took that little trailer as far as it would go. And when we got up to 100 people in a meeting, it was like, Wow, God! This is incredible!
I wanted to share that with you because in the beginning, when God starts you on His path, it’s hard to see the enormity of His vision for your life. If you choose to follow that vision, you’ll be met with plenty of opposition, but you will never regret following God.
In fact, the only thing we ever have to be concerned about in life is, Am I following God?
If you feel something strongly in your heart, step out and ﬁnd out.
Don’t let other people make your decisions. Follow God’s destiny for your life. Find what’s going to fulﬁll you—and start embracing all that you’re meant to be in Christ. Choose boldness!