“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.” (Galatians 1:10)
People pleasing does two things: 1) It makes you neglect your own needs in order to meet other people’s, and 2) It causes you to make decisions based on their approval.
Either way, you can end up feeling like a doormat. Maybe you became a people pleaser early in life to get the attention you craved and couldn’t get any other way. Or maybe you never learned to trust your own judgment.
The Bible says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap” (Proverbs 29:25), because it always backfires. Not only do others get upset with you, you end up disappointed with yourself when things don’t work out. Peter struggled with people-pleasing. The night before the crucifixion when “a servant girl … said … ‘”You were one of those with Jesus’ … But Peter denied it in front of everyone. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about'” (Matthew 26:69-70). Afterwards he ended up weeping over his failure. When Samuel confronted Saul about his decision not to completely destroy the Amalekites: “Saul admitted … ‘I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded'” (1 Samuel 15:24). Paul, on the other hand, wrote, “I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
It’s good to be considerate, loving, and patient, but you can’t let yourself be intimidated and manipulated: “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power” (2 Timothy 1:7). When you yield to the fear of others you allow them, not God, to control your life. God doesn’t want you to serve people out of fear, but out of love for them — and Him.
Heavenly Father, there is only one person I need to seek to please, and that is You because I love You. When I do that the rest falls in place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.