When People Are Big and God Is Small

“Am I now trying to win the approval of man or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I am still trying to please men I cannot be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Not that I am proud of it, but if I were a poster child for anything throughout the course of my life, it would be in the category of people-pleasing. I am REALLY good at seeking the approval of other people.

I remember at a very early age believing that being liked was more important than anything and worth securing at any cost. Of course there are many problems that arise with worshipping what others think of you, one being that I would easily lie to tell someone what they wanted to hear, that I had done something they had asked even if I had not, or that I agreed with their point of view on something even if I did not.

I felt much like a chameleon, being whoever others wanted me to be. And so I never really understood who “I” was, the person God had created me to be, with the specific gifts, talents, opinions and everything else that made me “me”. I remember once someone asking me what my favorite color was and I couldn’t answer! I was so busy trying to be who others thought I should be that I didn’t even know my own color preference (and I think I was a teenager at that point!).

People pleasing is every bit an addiction. It puts “me” and the approval of those around me at the center of my heart. The danger is that addictions only worsen and eventually lead to destruction if not addressed. So what is the 12 step program for beating the addictive cycle of people pleasing? Just like any idol of the heart, we need to confess and seek forgiveness for putting ourselves and others at the center of our hearts and lives. Only God Himself is designed to live there and is the only “One” whose approval is worth seeking.

And yet we know we fall short of His approval because we can never be perfect, right? Where is our hope!? Look today to the THE ONE, Jesus Himself, who secured the approval of the Father FOR YOU. By trusting in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus by faith alone, we now have His record of perfect righteousness and the “approval” of God forever. This truth, as it sinks deep into your heart and you begin to believe it, will free you of the need to worship, need and use others for a sense of security. Now we can love and serve others instead of trying to find life in their opinion of us.

Join me as a recovering people-pleaser, and experience for yourself how the healing love of a perfect Savior makes your relationships what they were created to be. No, not easy or perfect, but real, refining and fulfilling.

Prayer: Father thank you that you love, accept and approve of me in Jesus so I can be free of my need to find life in the approval of others. Change my heart and help me to believe this truth today. Amen.

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