Recently, a friend who I admire, and respect asked about my interest in helping with a project. After we talked a bit, I knew in my heart I wasn’t comfortable with it. I needed to be honest about how I felt, so I said:
“No, I’m sorry. I don’t think I’m the best person for that. Do you think someone else may be interested?”
My friend said it was fine and she’d ask another, but after we got off the phone, I replayed our conversation in my mind. I worried about what she thought of me. Was I not being a good sister in Christ? Did I hurt her feelings? Should I have told her yes?
I replayed our conversation over and over to the point of getting a headache. Yet I knew I didn’t feel comfortable with the request. I’d already said no, but I was still caving toward people pleasing.
A futile attempt
It’s amazing the tendency to people please or say “yes” to something we don’t really feel led to do. People pleasing has been a sin struggle I’ve dealt with most of my life. It shows itself in different forms: a constant need for approval, acceptance, a desire to be well-liked, and obsession over what people think.
In the past few years, I’ve been more awakened by my sin and have asked the Lord to change me in the process. I’ve learned that I can say “no” kindly and not have to give an excuse. I can say no to good things in order to say yes to the most important: my relationship with Jesus, husband, and children. I can be confident in how God has uniquely made me. And much more.
The truth is that it’s futile to seek out glory, honor, or approval from others instead of the Lord. It’s quite exhausting and leaves you feeling emptier. No number of likes, followers, or “you’re doing a great job!” can replace what our hearts ultimately need in Christ.
Winning the approval of God
The Apostle Paul knew that pleasing men and pleasing God was impossible. He could not do both and be a servant of Christ. To be a servant of Christ meant that his one mission in life was to live for God’s will and glory alone, as he says:
“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 others were not handling the gospel properly or living according to God’s ways, Paul couldn’t flip flop his position based on their opinions or feelings. He had to remain steadfast on the word of God.
Now if we’re honest, we know this isn’t always easy. Family, friendships, parenting, work relationships and more can make this tendency towards wanting to please others really sticky. Our dear friends Jay and Julia recently left for the mission field thousands of miles away with their six kids and we saw the tension it created in their family at the beginning. God’s calling on them was to serve an unreached people group where only 1% call themselves Christian.
Their news was difficult for her parents and sister to swallow- not being able to see their grandkids and worrying about their safety were just a few concerns. It’s been hard for them. Sacrifices have been made and many tears shed.
But while some might call this “yes” crazy, I’ve seen Jay and Julia walk in radical obedience to the Lord (even when it doesn’t always feel good) and it’s been such an encouragement to my faith. They live their life to please Jesus alone. He’s the one getting them through the adjustments and enormous culture and lifestyle changes. He’s taking care of them. God has also given their family in the states greater peace.
You can’t please everyone, and that’s OK
Whether it’s a simple no to a request as mentioned at the beginning of this article or a real gospel issue, the Lord will take care of us. He will see us through. We are his servants. We worship him and submit our lives under his reign and authority – not ourselves or other people. We must be willing to say yes to whatever he’s calling us to do.
You and I can’t please everyone, and that’s ok. It was never intended to be that way. But to be a servant of Christ, we’re called to please him alone.
God desires to give us his joy, peace, satisfaction, and an abundant life when we repent of this constant need to live for the approval of others. He wants us to be free to worship him and live in the calling he has placed on our lives. And make no mistake—it’s a special and unique calling, and it requires a daily effort of realigning our hearts to his.
Is your heart fully devoted to Him?
** This article first appeared on Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage.com
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. Her writing appears regularly on Her View From Home, TODAY Parenting, and For the Family. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.