they like me!

I need everyone to like me!

Can you relate to that statement?

I sure can and, let me tell you, it's an exhausting way to live. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted people to like me. Always aware of how I look and present myself, great care was taken to ensure my likability. And, if I didn't feel it was reciprocated or obvious, the stress to up the ante kicked in.

I'm not sure where it stems from. I can assume some things because of my past. As a child, I was overweight with "cowlicky" hair. My bangs never cooperated. My teeth were crooked and I usually had hand-me-down or homemade clothes. Rarely did I have something name-brand. As a kid, all these things are extremely noticeable by your peers. Now that I'm an adult, I can see why grown ups may not always take these things seriously or, understand how much they actually matter. In the same way, it's so important to raise kids to look beyond the label!

So, my childhood and teen experience definitely contributed, I'm sure, to my grown up tendencies to want to be liked. I wanted to be cool. But, I was also afraid of the attention because, what if I didn't meet the expectations I put on myself? What if, what I thought looked good, wasn't how everyone else perceived it? Or, maybe my jokes or thoughts weren't quite as popular. Hoo boy. The pressure I put on myself! Now that I am a leader in ministry, I noticed the pressure is still there. I believe it is good to be aware of how others may perceive us. There is a certain level of accountability that can come with that but, let's not confuse it with the urgent need to please everyone. You will end up on the floor in a heap of despair and, I am not being dramatic here.

How in the world do we get to a healthy place where we are to balance a life that involves accountability but, also focusing more on how God thinks of us? What does scripture say about this? Does this even apply to me and, if it doesn't, how can I support my fellow sister or brother?

All great questions that I have asked myself over the years. To this day, I still ask these questions. Not only that but, I tend to beat myself up a little bit when I find myself yearning for the approval of others or hurt feelings because I am not receiving the attention I think I deserve. Come explore with me, what God has to say about all this.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
Here is the thing about trying to please people: it takes the focus off the One who truly matters.


Jesus.

And we are done. Problem solved. Thank you for joining me today.

Seriously, though, it seems so much easier said than done, doesn't it? Of course we already know this truth! I know I do. So, what is it about me that consistently seems to forget or, at least gets distracted by the need to please others? I bet you already know that answer to this one too and, if you don't, when you read it will make sense immediately.

The enemy.

Satan doesn't want us to focus on Jesus. Because he knows what that will result in and his goal is to get as far from Jesus as possible. So, he will use every opportunity - our relationships, our ministries, how we view ourselves, our past, everything to distract us and pull us away. Because we are human and weak, sometimes he can be successful. A lot of times he can be! But, here is the thing with us who declare to be children of God - he isn't successful for very long. His victory is about one second long and we remember what scripture says and the TRUTH which is our focus should be completely on God, His thoughts and His unconditional love for us.

Armor UP

Let us not forget that while we are here on this earth, there is an enemy roaming around who is trying to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to steal our identity, kill our Holy Spirit confidence and destroy our relationship with Jesus. So, what do we do? We put on the full armor as outlined in Ephesians 6:10-18 and, we need to do it daily. Need a way to remind yourself to do this on the daily? I've created a free printable that you can get below. Print it. Post it. Do it each day!

Feelings and Emotions and Stuff 

Now that we remember there is an enemy who wants to thwart our plans, let's talk about some other good heart to heart stuff. When we get head deep in ministry, it is easy to get our feelings hurt pretty quickly. Maybe a lady isn't happy with how you lead or isn't feeling connected. Perhaps someone seems to admonish another leader or speaker but rarely gives you the time of day. While scrolling on social media you notice some of, who you would consider to be, your counterparts receiving lots of likes and feedback while your posts look sad and lonely. The lady who has stuck by your side for awhile has suddenly disappeared and won't respond to any of your messages, texts or emails.

Why does this all bother some of us so much? Can you relate to any of those scenarios? Maybe you aren't a ministry leader but, one or two or three of those still caught your breath. The lump is forming in your throat again because it's reminding you of a situation that has left you a little bit tender. Listen, we all take our work personally. We work hard! I know I do. Over and over again I proclaim that the work I do is not my own and that it always belongs to God. I try so hard to not get in the way but, when any of those scenarios happen I am suddenly taking center stage. All of those situations have happened to me over the years. Every. Single. One of them. It hurts.

I will answer the first question I posed - Why does this bother me so much? Because I care what others think. Because I care about others. Because I take it personally when I see women not happy or not connecting or, apparently, unhappy with me. Now, I want to take a minute to acknowledge that reflecting on one's own actions when these scenarios happen isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's a very good and very healthy thing to do. Because we are all human and in need of a Savior, it's important to acknowledge our short-comings and be prepared to apologize when necessary and have grace when appropriate. This isn't quite the same thing as caring what others think about you. This is caring how others are being shown the same love that God exudes to each one of us.

Pride and Identity

When it becomes an issue is when we begin to develop our identity in it. Oh this is dangerous ground! What do I mean by this? Well, let me give you a personal example. As a ministry leader, I take great care to ensure that any events have the motive to intentionally connect women with one another and with Jesus. When I was "green", which I honestly feel like I still am in this role, I took it personally when ladies weren't happy or had some criticism to give. In fact, I took it to a whole other level of personal attack. Let me see if I can explain this well without turning this into a 5000 page dissertation. At the beginning of developing a women's ministry, I was comparing it to other women's ministries I knew of. My only perception was from the outside and, my perception led me to believe that women adored the leader and the ministry. My very false perception also led me to believe that there could no way be any type of conflict! So, when it began to appear in my own world, it hurt. I blubbered. The enemy began to take advantage of my moment of weakness and whispered lies to me like, "you aren't a good leader" and "who do you think you are doing this? God would never see you as qualified?" Oof. That hurts. My pride got hurt. My pride got in the way of what God was doing.

Who do we turn to?

In these moments, it is critical to think of who we turn to for affirmation. While our wonderful brothers and sisters in the Lord are a good source, they are not the Perfect Source. Well meaning people can give false praise and, while what they say may be true, it can result in another dangerous place which is pride. Always, always go to the Lord. Pray. Worship. Dig into His word for truth.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8
I know, without a shadow of a doubt, God has placed some honest people in my life who will be brutally honest with me when needed. They will also encourage me and speak good truth over me. It is my job to remember Who I do this for and Who receives all the praise. Because, even if I do lead well, it's not by own strength or wisdom - it is only from the good Lord above! And He deserves and requires all my thanks and recognition.

When all is said and done.

Shall I end this with a moral? Okay sure. The moral of the story is to not care what people think.

Well, that may not be an absolute truth. There is a balance of making sure others are being heard and cared for but, at the end of the day, Who is it we are trying to please? Who is it that we are honoring and worshiping? Who is it that needs to receive all glory, honor and power?
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. Galatians 1:10
If we based our ministry off of pleasing people, we will be tired, burnt out, hurt, stressed and distraught. If we based our ministry off of pleasing God we will be at peace, have joy, and confidence in HIS guidance and what HE is doing. There is a level of faith at here because you will always have people coming to you with grievances, opinions and the like. It's so important to take it to the Lord.

I am learning to have this response when someone tells me they aren't happy - "Thank you for your honesty and letting me know. This will be something I will take to the Lord and consider for future planning."  This will, without a doubt, frustrate some but, this is when we have to trust that God is going to be working in them as well. Many times, the grievance has nothing to do with you personally but, with whatever that person is going through.

There will also be the people who leave or completely ignore you. I am in the midst of this right now and it is so hard. As a people pleaser, I want to keep reaching out but, I can only do so much. There comes a moment when you let go and let God. You keep pursuing what the Lord is calling you to and trust that He will work all things out for HIS glory and good.

As a servant of Christ, may I continually aim to please HIM. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to YOU, oh God.

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As promised, here is a free printable for you. Simply right click and save. Enjoy!


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