Is People-pleasing Really Loving?

by Joan C Webb on March 7, 2012

Those who live to please another person may think they have valid reasons for doing so. I certainly did. One of my motives for living this way was based on what I thought God wanted from me. I read the Bible and knew it directed me to be loving, kind, accepting, and giving. I didn’t want to act selfishly or appear unloving. So I hid what I liked, what I really wanted, and how I believed God was calling me when they did not coincide with my husband’s ideas.

Peace at any cost…

Eventually, this way of life led me into burnout. I felt dead inside. Still, I tried so hard to make everyone happy. I wanted to please God, but my actions proved that someone else was more important to me than God.

I slipped deeper into depression, overwork, and exhaustion until I reluctantly admitted, “I do not want to live this way any longer.”  Although uncertain about just what to do, I began to be honest with God about my thoughts, emotions, and needs. In turn, God slowly started revealing myself to me. I found I had some misconstrued ideas about how to be a loving and giving person. For the sake of peace I had ignored what God had showed me about myself and instead adopted my mate’s concept for me. I ended up where I didn’t want to be.

It startled me when I realized that someone else’s opinion and agenda pulled more weight with me than God’s did. I was hurt and upset that I had treated God so poorly. However, my genuine pain gave me the motive and courage I needed to change my direction and pursue God’s intention for me. This is what He wanted from me all along. 

My current thoughts…

While preparing for “The Intentional Woman Finds Relief”* Women’s Retreat that I’m teaching/facilitating this weekend, I read the above part of my story. It touched a soft spot in my tired heart and I thought of the verse-prayer, “What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.” Ps. 51:6. (The Message.) 

I want to renew my commitment I say “yes” to what God wants from me–and not try so hard to figure out what everybody else wants from me. What about you?

* A 5-Step growth process based on my books, The Relief of Imperfection and The Intentional Woman.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam C in Canada March 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I really like your picture at the top :) . This is a great reminder & I really needed to “hear” it/read it now, at this point, especially with all of the changes coming up :) . Thanks Joan!

Diane Markins March 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Such a good word of advice, Joan. We can be kind and have respect for others but the only opinion that truly matters is God’s!

Joan C. Webb March 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Hi Pam C! Glad you like the pix! And I like that this blog reminder warranted 2 smiley faces. God’s grace to you as you journey through this transition.

Joan C. Webb March 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Hi Diane! Indeed, you’re right. We can be kind, respectful, loving at the same time that we speak up and stand up for what we sense God is showing us about ourselves and our lives. It’s revolutionary for some of us.

Lucille Zimmerman March 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I heard some famous Christian therapists say people pleasing is really just disguised selfishness. An attmpt to be liked at all costs.
Ouch, I could see that in myself.

Joan C. Webb March 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Sobering, indeed, Lucille. There’s a strong, courageous, assertive, bold side to true love in addition to the kind, patient, giving, quiet, flexible side. God IS love and He has both sides. This helps me. It isn’t always easy, I admit. I still sometimes don’t want to rock the boat and “hurt” another by sharing my truth or perception (I mean I could be wrong and I wouldn’t want that! LOL!) Yet, love stands up and sometimes says what isn’t popular at times. (At the same time LOVE doesn’t just blurt anything that pops into our minds, not caring if it hurt someone.) Well, my conclusion at this moment: we ALL need God, those who blurt & love to rock the boat and those who hide and fear rocking the boat. Lucille, I guess you got me going… Now, back to working on my talk for the weekend!! :-)

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