People Pleasing: Why it’s Time to Break Free
By Rhonda Stoppe
Have you noticed the influx of media marketing lately? Post after post offers resources to help you “be the best you” that you can be because you deserve to live your dreams or change the world with your passion.
Am I the only one who feels pangs of anxiety when I look over these posts? There is almost a subliminal message that says:
- You aren’t good enough
- You need to try harder
- Everyone else is resolving to do better
- You had better keep up the pace
I don’t know about you, but the very idea of these accusations sends me looking for a paper bag to breathe into.
When I start to feel overwhelmed by a barrage of “should-a, would-a, could-a’ thinking, I have learned it’s time to stop the voice in my head. Comparing myself to other’s is exhausting. However, being a middle-child and a born people-pleaser, my natural default is to compare myself to those more motivated than I. When I do that I lose. Every. Single. Time. Maybe you can relate?
If you’re a born people-pleaser, it’s not easy to change your inclination. But with God’s help, it is possible. For insights, let’s consider three reasons why it’s time to break free from people-pleasing:
- Living for the approval of others is never a worthy goal. Let’s face it, people-pleasing is a moving target. We’ve all heard “You can’t please all the people all the time.” So, if you’re a people pleaser you will exhaust yourself trying to measure up to everyone else’s standard for success. And you’ll drive yourself to burnout and discouragement. (Or the opposite could be a prideful reaction if you consider yourself to be doing better than those you observe. And the Bible warns that pride goes before destruction––so there’s that!)
- When you bow to the standard of others you’ll lose peace of mind. Because you will constantly compare yourself to how others are doing, or change your goals based on the comments of others.
In my book, Moms Raising Sons to Be Men I shared one of the most important things I learned from a godly mentor when he said:
“Never raise your children for what others think of you. That’s a sure way to send your kids into rebellion.”
Let that sink in for a moment. People-pleasing isn’t pleasing for you or your children. If your kids learn that your ultimate goal for getting them to do well is that you want to be esteemed your peers, they will come to resent your promptings to do better.
So, what can you do to train yourself to stop living for the opinion of others? For me, freedom from people-pleasing came in a number of ways. First and foremost was when I surrendered my life to Jesus as my Lord and Savior because the Spirit of God gave me new life in Christ.
Once enslaved to my trespasses and sins, I found God set me free. By the power of His indwelling Spirit, God’s peace began to rule in my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (see Romans 6 and Philippians 4:7).
When I realized that God created me for His glory and not my own, I learned the most important Person to please was the Lord my God. Wow-what a relief! (To learn more contact me via NoRegretsWoman.com to request: How Can I Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus?
No longer did I need to seek the approval of others. The only standard I had to live up to was the one Jesus called me to in relationship with Him.
- Consider God’s standard. In Mark 12:30-31 the religious leaders asked Jesus what was the priority of life. Jesus’ response was two-fold:
- Love God with all of your being
- Love others with His love
Now, don’t be tempted to simplify this statement to mean, “God doesn’t care about my sin, all that matters is love.” Because the truth is, if you’re loving God with your whole being, then the evidence of that love is your desire to walk in obedience to His commands.
Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). So, there’s no way around it. The way to please God alone is to grow your love for Him which will cause you to walk in obedience to Him, which will give you confidence to resist people-pleasing.
The second part of Jesus response in Mark 12 was to love others as we love ourselves. Here’s the interesting part of that statement. We cannot love others in the selfless way God commands until we are living in love with Jesus. Because when we love Him properly what spills out of us is His selfless love for others.
When you live to know and love the Lord and His love spills out of your life onto those around you, you will have learned the secret to breaking free of people-pleasing. And your love for your children will be grounded in Christ’s selfless love.
You see, as you draw near to God, He promises to draw near to you. And the closer you walk to Jesus, the more clearly you will have the mind of Christ to discern what He would have you do with your life––rather than comparing yourself, and your children, to what others seem to be accomplishing (see James 4:8, 1 Corinthians 2:16).
There is nothing wrong with looking ahead to set some God driven goals. But the way to determine His will for your life will be found in spending quiet time in prayer and Bible study. This will grow your love for Him and give you wisdom and discernment to follow His leading.
Never underestimate the importance of attending a church where you will hear the preaching of the Word and find godly mentors to help you grow. I am confident that hearing my mentor, so many years ago, challenge me not to raise my kids for the approval of others saved them––and me from years of heartache and rebellion.
Spend time fellowshipping with other moms who are focused on Christ rather than people-pleasing. And most importantly, spend with Jesus. Because time with Him through prayer, Bible Study and waiting in His presence is the secret to living life without regrets.
And when you resolve to live in His presence, you will find the way to break free from people-pleasing.
*Please note that abuse is a different story, and if you or your children are in a situation where abuse is involved please contact the center for women and children to get help now!
Rhonda Stoppe, the No Regrets Woman, has mentored women for more than two decades. Steve Stoppe has pastored First Baptist Church, Patterson, California, for 19. After 37 years of marriage, they’re still head-over-heels and ready to share their secrets to building a no-regrets marriage. They’ve appeared on Focus on the Family and together write books, speak at marriage conferences and rescue troubled ministry marriages at their ranch in Northern California. They have four happily married children and ten grandchildren. To invite Steve & Rhonda to speak at your next event, and for more resources & videos, follow their social media links and connect with the Stoppe’s at NoRegretsWoman.com.
Rhonda is the author of 6 books and appears on numerous radio programs including FamilyTalk, Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and hosts The No Regrets Hour. She speaks at women’s events, Pastor’s Wives Conferences, MOPs and homeschool conventions. Sharing the gospel is her sweet spot––she’s an evangelist at heart.