A people pleaser is someone who goes out of their way to please others. They put other peoples pleasure before their own, hoping to gain acceptance and validation. It is not wrong to want to please others. And it is not wrong to put others before yourself. But when you do it as a duty or in the wrong spirit (looking for validation and acceptance) you put yourself in bondage.
People pleasers put the desires of others before themselves. They will go out of their way to make sure that everyone else is happy even at the expense of their own well-being. They will volunteer for things even when they know they don’t have the time or energy. They will take on extra responsibilities, go the extra mile and may even disregard their morals to please others. They spend so much of their time worrying about others that they end up tired and unfulfilled.
This kind of behavior stems from the desire to be accepted. It creates a false belief that their personal worth is determined by how much they think others value them. A people pleaser will go out of their way to show how funny, smart and useful they are JUST to feel accepted. They will do almost anything to avoid being rejected.
This way of thinking can start early in life. If a child has demanding parents, or parents that put unreasonable expectations on their kid, the child can develop the wrong idea about how the world works. They can think that unless they are perfect, the world will not accept them. A child can have a teacher who is very hard on them or a coach who rides them too hard or maybe an overbearing social circle. It can also start in the adult years-maybe a significant other /spouse or an employer. Whatever the cause, there is a solution.
The first mistake people pleasers make is looking for validation from the world. No matter how much the world loves or hates you, your value can only be determined by the one who made you. You can give up your time, money, family, health, etc., to please others and it still won’t fill you up. You won’t feel fulfilled or at rest, because only God can fill that void in your heart.
People pleasers get so used to putting others before them that oftentimes the other people lose respect for them. They end up becoming doormats for others. Their feelings and needs are often overlooked and their value ends up being based solely on their performance and willingness to perform and not their character or moral fiber. They are often taken for granted and used. People value you for what you do instead of who you are.
This is not the ideal situation for a child of the Living God. And many pleasers are afraid of God because they think He (being perfect) will have such high demands they could never measure up. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I used to be a people pleaser. I used to think that I had to do things for people in order for them to like me. I would bend over backwards just to make sure that people would accept me. My flawed thinking was a result of a hurting heart that came from being adopted (fear of rejection and abandonment). Even when I became a Christian I would still try to earn peoples love and acceptance. But eventually, through His grace, I began to accept His love and began to shed the insecurities of my youth and learn to trust in it. Then I felt confident to just be me. To take the chance that people would just like me for who I am instead of what I did for them. And it worked! I no longer had to perform in order to be accepted. A huge load was taken off. It wasn’t easy. I had to start saying no to people. I had to disappoint them. But it is what needed to be done in order to be the person that God created me to be.
So how do you know when to say no? Most of the time you know your schedule and if you simply do not have time, you just have to say no. Other times it can be a little tricky. Like if you have a friend who always needs someone to bail him/her out. Sure you want to show them grace, because that is what Jesus would do but at some point you enable them and reward them for their bad behavior. And that is something Jesus would not do. If your friend spends their money on booze, gambling or something else but then cannot afford to pay their heat bill so they come to you for money, how often do you say yes? Pretty soon you have to say no. It is what is best for them and for you. They may be unhappy with you but eventually they will thank you when they become responsible for their own choices. I often base my answer (yes or no) on which answer is just (justice). Helping a friend who made a one-time mistake out of a jam would be just, helping someone who never seems to want to learn from their mistakes is not. If we became enablers we too can enter into sin. So if you suspect someone asks you to do something for them, ask yourself if they are asking because they know you will say yes or if they are just asking you because you always say yes and they don’t have to ask anyone who has way more free time than you. Don’t let yourself be taken for granted. If you will not stand up for your own sake, stand up for righteousness’ sake. Do not reward poor behavior. If it is that important, they will find someone else to help them.
So if you are a people pleaser you must know that you are loved with an everlasting love. Your value has never changed with God and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more, or less. You have to learn how to let God love you for who you are and then trust in that love. And never try to earn it.
If you are a parent, imagine your child thinking he/she had to do something in order for you to accept/love them. You would feel terrible, wouldn’t you? God is the same way. He doesn’t want His children thinking they have to work for His love. He wants them to run to Him and sit on His lap knowing that He is there for them.
So, if you are run-down, unfulfilled and confused about what the future holds, you might ask yourself if you are a people pleaser. You may have to repent for putting the interests of man ahead of the interests of God. You also may need to start taking time for yourself and learning to love yourself (faults and all) and relax for a while. You have been so focused on making others happy that you might not even know what makes you happy. You may need to discover yourself. You may need to ask God to show you how He sees you and ask Him to help you forget about how you think others do. He can take the burdens you have been carrying and lead you to streams of living water. He wants to show you who you REALLY ARE. You are wonderful and very precious.
We are made in God’s image. He values us and loves us. He only wants the best for us and never wants to see us carrying burdens we were never meant to carry. Lay them down today and enter the freedom that God has for you.
1 Thessalonians 2:4