Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. —Colossians 3:23-24
One of the most freeing things that I have learned in my years of walking with the Lord is how to break free from being a people pleaser. Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t be unselfish or make the needs of others a priority. I am talking about an unhealthy need to be accepted and approved by others—a desire so strong that it influences and controls the majority of our decisions.
I call this needing an “approval fix.” Like an addict who “needs” a certain drug, people pleasers have a need to be liked by other people. And when they can’t get their “fix”…watch out! The “withdrawal” symptoms kick in and they become unhappy, depressed and even angry.
I know about this from personal experience.
If you’re not sure whether you’re a people pleaser, I want to give you some insight that can help you.
Are You Honest with Others?
One of the greatest signs of being a people pleaser is not being completely truthful with others about who we are. We say we like things we really don’t like. We go places and say we are enjoying it, when in reality, it is the last place on earth we want to be.
We nod our heads in agreement to things we don’t feel right about in our hearts. Instead of telling people the truth about our desires, feelings and thoughts, we develop a pattern of telling others what we think they want to hear in order to remain accepted.
There are also times when people are dishonest about their true thoughts and feelings because they are trying to keep the other person “fixed” or happy.
Ephesians 4:15 says, God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love … (The Message). Verse 25 goes on to say having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor... (ESV).
And in Colossians 3:9 (AMP), we are told, Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices. I think it is pretty clear: God wants us to be truthful with each other at all times in a kind and considerate way.
What’s Your Motive: Duty or Desire?
Another big indicator that we are people pleasers is that we do things out of a sense of duty instead of desire. In other words, we do something for someone because we feel obligated, or it is expected of us—we are afraid if we don’t do it, others will get mad at us or think badly of us.
But doing things because we feel forced to do them or are fearful of being rejected is a wrong motive.
Now, please understand that we do not have to want to do everything we need to do. There are some things that we are required to do, and if we don’t do them, problems develop.
For example, I may not want to or feel like cleaning my house, but if I never clean it, things will become disorganized, out of order, and very stressful. I may not want to do the laundry, but if I never do it, I’ll eventually run out of clothes to wear.
So there is a balance in this area that God will help us find. We just need to make sure we aren’t doing things because we’re afraid of making someone angry or rejecting us. In the same way, we need to treat others with respect and not make them feel obligated to do things for us.
I want to encourage you to pray and ask God to show you what your motives are in everything you do. If you’re making decisions based on pleasing others to satisfy your need for approval, then it’s time to make some changes.
Be determined to follow God’s plan for your life and enjoy the freedom to be what He has created you to be!