“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NKJV)
People pleasing has been something I have dealt with for a while now, especially in the church. Saying, “no” to others, and sometimes even to myself, became nonexistent.
I love every person I have ever encountered on my journey with the Lord because they have helped me so much along the way. Some have gone on their own journeys elsewhere, and some have come with me on mine. Without God placing these people in my life to uplift me and bring the best out of me, I would not be the person I am today. But, I want to emphasize having a balance between church community and life.
The Bible speaks of meeting with fellow believers often and how we should not neglect doing so less we fall and become like “the world” or “sinners”. Let me be clear about one thing - attending church services and events is one thing, but attending them just because you want to please someone other than God is not okay.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) says, “ And let us not consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.”
Now, I have heard this scripture multiple times, and everytime it has been used out of context. It has been drilled into my mind and heart to believe if I do not attend a church service on Sunday or some other form of church event that my life was going to shambles, and soon I would be known as a “backslider” or a “sinner”.
The severity of attending church meetings was such a big deal that I was serving at church and church events multiple times a week. There was a time when I was attending lifegroups, Bible studies, and church services four times a week plus children’s ministry twice on Sunday. I was constantly burnt out, and I never really allowed myself a break from going to any event. I had to be there, or I thought someone was going to think less of me or that I must have “fallen out” or away from the faith.
I often found and still find myself having anxiety about whether or not I’m sinning because of manmade rules. An example would be music. I love music of all kinds and genres, but growing up in church it was not always a good thing to listen to music. Godly music or worship music was the only thing that was acceptable no matter the occasion. Every secular rapper or music artist was deemed evil, and you should not be listening to them because they might “give you ideas' '. Now I am not saying you should just listen to anything and everything, but use your discernment.
Not only was I so anxious trying to decide if Beyonce or Drake was going to send me to Hell or not, but I was also trying to navigate through the practical things in life such as dating or how to make friends.
The only teaching on purity was to avoid sin, read your Bible and listen to Kirk Franklin or Hillsong United. I really do not remember a solid teaching on the simplicities of life. Practical advice of being a Christian, and dating, friendships, and simply loving others. I couldn’t even like a guy without my mind racing. I would think, “ Is he my husband? Is he a lifegroup leader? If he knows Jesus, do our callings align?” And so on and so forth.
Instead of focusing on loving others and living our lives, we are constantly wrapped up in this chaotic religious set of rules like the Pharisees. The Pharisees would question Jesus about his disciples not washing their hands before they ate. And Jesus then taught them about the importance of holding God's commandments rather than men’s commandments.
Too often we lay aside the commandments of God and take up our own. When we do this, we are no longer teaching the will of God, we are teaching the will of man. All doctrine and no love. We become people pleasers and lose ourselves in it. We then forget to show the world us in alignment with Christ. And that is exactly what happened to me.
I began to show the church members who they wanted me to be and not who God had originally designed me to be. Expressing myself felt like a sin. If you feel as if you were in this same situation, people pleasing man instead of God. I want you to ask God to help you begin a journey of letting go of some people and even some things so that you can better please Him.
Obviously, 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. Galatians 1:10 (NLT)