Ever find yourself stressed not because of anything major, like health or financial problems, but because the expectations you’ve put on yourself have suddenly turned into a ginormous, unbearable weight?
Oh, do we get that!
Right now, the team at Armor of God Coffee is working through what we like to call becoming a “recovering people-pleaser.” What we’ve discovered is that a simple shift in perspective and priority has been key.
See, people-pleasing is not just “being nice,” as many sometimes think. It is going to great lengths to please others, often at the expense of ourselves, and it often stems from issues of self-worth. It’s the notion that if we say yes or work hard enough we’ll be accepted, liked, and “worthy.”
The trouble is that not only is it an emotionally exhausting exercise that no one can ever win, but it also sets us up to make people, not God, our idol. And that’s plain wrong.
In the Ten Commandments, God says He is the only God and that we are never to put anything else before Him:
“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must have no other gods before me. Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth” (Exodus 20:2-4 CEB).
That means anytime we’re wearing ourselves out in winning over others out of some misguided need for love and acceptance, we’re placing them first in our lives—at the expense of our faith, our calling, our family, and anything else.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t serve others. Serving others is an important way to love others, which is something Jesus calls us to do. As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:37-40).
But look inward: are you “serving” others or merely pleasing others? Are you doing what you do because you want to make someone happy or make someone like you, because you don’t want to let someone down—or because you know in your heart it’s what God is asking you to do?
The difference here is who we are pleasing. And when we’re focusing on pleasing anyone but God as our priority, we’re getting off-track.
In their letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul, Silvanus and Timothy reminded the early Christians to keep their priorities straight, as they themselves were striving to do.
“We aren’t trying to please people, but we are trying to please God, who continues to examine our hearts” (1 Thessalonians
God knows our hearts. If you’re feeling stressed, take a look at why. Then rein it in by placing God in the right place: Number One, front, and center.
Until next week… stay armored up.