Do you ever find it hard to say, “No”, even when your head, heart, and schedule are telling you that “Yes” isn’t the best answer?
But the people-pleaser in us will argue that it is the best answer. Because we want to be helpful. We don’t want to let them down. We want to be good Christians with a servant’s heart.
But while people-pleasing may look like helping and serving, it isn’t coming from a servant’s heart. It’s coming from misplaced fear.
People-Pleasing = Misplaced Fear
People-pleasing happens when our "fear of man” becomes greater than our fear of the Lord.
In contrast, fear of the Lord is awe and reverence for Him that causes us to trust in Him rather than be afraid.
Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.
When we fear the Lord…
People-Pleasing vs. A Servant's Heart
In Galatians 1:10, the apostle Paul writes, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Serving others is something we are called to do as followers of Jesus.
Like Jesus washing His disciples feet, we are to perform acts of care for others that meet their needs, recognize their dignity and worth, and encourage their hearts.
People-pleasing will often try to disguise itself as a “servant’s heart”. But we see from Paul’s words that people-pleasing really keeps us from truly serving Jesus through serving others in love.
The difference between people-pleasing and serving in love is a matter of the heart:
Overcoming People-Pleasing and Serving in Love
How can we overcome people-pleasing so we can serve others out of a true servant’s heart?
Here are a few ways:
Increase your fear of the Lord
Since the primary cause of people-pleasing is misplaced fear, increasing our fear of the Lord is probably the number one way we can overcome people-pleasing.
As our fear of the Lord increases, our fear of everything else will decrease.
Know where your worth is found
Your worth isn’t found in everyone being happy with you. Your worth isn’t found in volunteering. Your worth isn’t found in recognition and accolades. Your worth isn’t even found in having a servant’s heart.
Your worth is found in Christ alone.
Pray before you answer
Whether it’s a quick prayer right after being asked to help with that thing that you’re not sure you’ll be able to help with, or answering with, “Let me think/pray about it, and I’ll get back to you”, praying before we answer with a definite “Yes” or “No” quiets the people-pleaser and listens to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Maybe it’s only taking on a certain number of volunteer projects at a time. Maybe you have a certain day or night of the week that you won’t commit to anything so you can rest and renew.
Whatever it might be, set some boundaries to give you a guideline for saying “No" even when the people-pleaser in you wants to say “Yes.”
Serve where your passions are
Serving others won’t always be fun or comfortable or convenient, but not wanting to people-please shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not serve others at all.
As you look for ways to serve others, look for where their needs and your passions meet.
God often uses our gifts and passions to lead us where He wants us, to lead us to others we can serve and share Jesus’ love with.
Through Christ, we can overcome people-pleasing. Maybe this week you could pick just one of these actions to implement, so you can start saying "No" to people-pleasing, and "Yes" to pleasing the Lord with a true servant's heart.