May 24, 2012

The Exhausting Work of People-Pleasing


I have been a people-pleaser for most of my life. Now, not everyone was in my category of “worth pleasing.” I can also confess that my heart was to always please people for the benefit of them loving me. I did not want anything from those to who I was trying to please, other than love and acceptance.

The ones I was consistently trying to please were the influencers in my life. You could even say that some were mentors or spiritual leaders. Yes, it is a noble and good thing to serve your leader, mentor, pastor, etc. However, I attached their reaction of my servitude to my own peace and joy.

If I performed well I would get a pat on the back and they would say, “Wow, you did great tonight. We love you. Thanks for all your hard work.”

Sure, they were being kind. However, some knew that I needed that attention and used it to manipulate me into doing more for them.

After a few years of people pleasing I began to feel worn out. Finding approval in others is the most exhausting thing that I have ever done. I cannot tell you of a more mentally draining task than that of people pleasing. Why? The beast never gets fed enough. If you climb one mountain, you feel as though you must climb three more to maintain your relationship with people you think you need. It is a never-ending struggle, until one day you burn out and give up.

So today, I want you to make a decision to do as Galatians 1:10 suggests and begin to live your life to please God and not man. Sure, you can serve humanity as we are supposed to do, but we cannot find our self-worth, love, acceptance, and forgiveness in humanity. There is only One from which we can gain such peace.

Discussion Question:
Do you struggle with people-pleasing? If so, how do you handle the inner struggle that people-pleasing brings?

As a former senior pastor who burned out very young, Matt Wade writes and speaks to prevent other young leaders from doing the same. Read his blog at Human Like You.

Image • Matt Wade

Originally Published: May 24, 2012
Category: Emotional Health
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