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Are You A People-pleaser?

Do you go out of your way to avoid conflict? Always think of others, even at the sacrifice of yourself? Change yourself because of what others say? Are you a workaholic? Afraid to be yourself? Unable to make decisions? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then chances are you’re a people-pleaser. The Bible calls us to give ourselves to others—to give to charity and to help those in need. We are supposed to love and value one another and to consider “What would Jesus do?” for our every action. What would Jesus do? Well, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us, but how can we ever compare?

How often do you put another person’s needs in front of your own? Do you give too much? God may have called us to be servants, but how can you serve if you consistently have nothing left in your tank? So many Christians get caught up in the way they should be perceived rather than the way they should actually be. We get caught up in the hoopla of how others perceive us—in showing that we know the right path to a Christian lifestyle. There is such a frenzy that we begin to forget about what’s truly in our hearts and what really matters. The idea that everyone should have good self-esteem and that we have to make everyone happy all the time has infected our culture. Instead, we should find a medium between always thinking of ourselves and always thinking of others and focus on pleasing God rather than people. Find your worth through Him. Get to know yourself. He’ll let you know who you really are. Stop being a people-pleaser and develop healthy relationships.

Don’t give more than you are able.

The amount you give is not a true measure of how charitable you are. Take a man of great wealth and a man who has nothing but the clothes on his back. If each of them gave away his jacket, are they equally charitable? No. The example can go the other way as well. What if a man dies of dehydration after he gave his only cup of water to someone who was just a little thirsty? Is he a better man for dying because he made someone else more comfortable? No. You should give what you can, but don’t be foolish and give more than you have. The Bible says to think of others and to practice charity, but you should also be aware of your own needs. When you give all you have, there’s nothing left for yourself. You can’t give from an empty cup. “Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Paul doesn’t say to forget about your own needs. Instead he wants you to remember think of others as well. In the same sense, you can’t take on more than you can handle. Don’t overburden yourself and take on everyone else’s problems. Offer prayer, a shoulder to cry on or advice, but don’t carry all of their weight on your shoulders.

Don’t let people take advantage of you.

Just as there are people who try to please everybody, there are those who do nothing but please themselves and take advantage of others. To prevent this, boundaries should be set. Practice saying, “yes” to the things that matter to you and “no” to the things that should be eliminated from your life. If you allow someone to continually take advantage of you, you become part of the problem. By letting such behavior go unnoticed, you become an enabler and share the blame. In a healthy relationship, both people give and take equally. You should be able to trust one another and communicate well. You should be supports for one another.

Listen to God.

You should give, not because someone told you to, but because God wants you to. You should give from your heart because you want to. At the right time, God will let you know where your services are needed. Listen for Him, and follow Him. Give charity to whatever God calls you for, and do it on purpose. When you give, give as if you have chosen to do it, not because someone has forced you to. Rely on God. Trust Him. Only He can show you where you are supposed to be in life and who you should give your charity to. Charity is good, but you can reach a point where your every motivation is controlled by having the right image—then you are becoming too much of a people-pleaser. Instead of being a people-pleaser, be a God-pleaser. "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:43). Don’t let yourself fall to the temptation to forget who you are supposed to be pleasing.

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[Erica Howard is a senior at UCF and is learning the difference between pleasing God and pleasing people.]

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