people pleaser

It is inherent in man’s nature to seek appreciation from others. A child needs to be appreciated as he grows and matures. Man needs encouragement to sustain his daily activities. Appreciating one another at home and at work is critical to success. But there are times however, when seeking appreciation becomes pathological.

Psychologists recognize those whose lives are defined by an attitude of pleasing people.

‘Why am I a People Pleaser?  Typically, the intense need to please and care for others is deeply rooted in either a fear of rejection and/or fear of failure.’ Sherry Pagoto (1)

Often severely influenced by either absentee or highly critical parents, children who grow up to be ‘people pleasers’ end up with a personality that morbidly fears rejection or failure. “Will I still be accepted and loved by my significant others? Will I be punished or will I end up with failure if I don’t please others?” What follows is a lifestyle where everything is ordered around a desire to please either a loved one or a superior. Seeking appreciation becomes paramount. We see this at homes where a spouse will silently take on stress; we see this at the workplace where pleasing the boss becomes far more important that doing the work right; we see it at organizations and even churches where pleasing the powers that be is the driving force, often at the expense of doing good.

Psychologists suggest recognizing the problem and re-training your mind as the essence of the solution to this harmful personality trait. The Bible goes to the core of this problem in Galatians 1:10; and provides us with definitive solutions.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

One who has received Christ begins with an advantage- that of intimately knowing the living God. Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is a decision for life (and eternity) wherein you embrace a new identity. Your sins have been forgiven and you have the freedom to start anew. The handcuffs from your memory have fallen off and they no longer bind your life. In saying, ‘If I were still trying to please men——-’, Paul is indicating that your past life is replaced by a new one. Your identity is no longer one of being a ‘people pleaser’ or anything else, but one who lives for God and pleases God.

Paul reminds us that seeking approval from men contradicts seeking approval from God. The single most important aid to the problem is to understand that you cannot do both. Be it at work, home or the church, the choice is between pleasing God and pleasing men! You do one at the expense of the other.

Also, Paul uses the word ‘servant’ to refer to one who follows Christ. Interestingly pleasing others and attempting to win others approval makes a person a servant to others. It is a form of enslavement from which Christ can release you. No one is truly free unless he is a slave to Christ!

When a person sets his mind to please God and be a servant of Christ, the personality of ‘people pleaser’ falls off like a dry leaf from a growing plant.



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