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The Cost of Being a People Pleaser (And How to Overcome It)

For many years, I struggled with being a people pleaser. I never wanted anyone to be mad at me, so I worked at keeping the peace no matter the cost. 

Eventually, I began to see this outlook was taking a toll on my health and was not a productive use of my time. In fact, trying to keep the peace was keeping me from living out the priorities God had placed on my life.

The apostle Paul writes in the book of Galatians that pleasing people is not necessary. Galatians 1:10 says:

For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Did you catch that?

When we try to please people, we are not being servants of Christ.

That means we’re not living out the priorities God has for us.

When you make pleasing God your motive, you can know you are using your time well without a doubt. Having the goal of pleasing God makes it easier to decide how to use your time. And pleasing God with what you do automatically spills over into how you deal with other people. And often that leads to good relationships that, in turn, lead someone to Christ.

So what do you do if you’re stuck in a people-pleasing mindset? Let me share a few things I’ve learned that have helped me to stop people-pleasing.

Learn how to set boundaries

Before we can live out our priorities, we need to know what they are. Asking God to show us the priorities He has for us helps us know how to use our time. Once we know our priorities we can set boundaries and teach those who want us to please them what those boundaries are. That means knowing what you will do and what you won’t do. 

Learn how to say no

Saying no is hard for me. I really want to help people when they ask; however, just because we are asked to do something does not mean we should. What’s really hard is when someone says they’ve prayed about who to ask to do a certain task or to lead a group and they really feel like God is telling them you are the one. I’ve had that happen before and it’s hard to argue with. But I’ve learned to say, “Let me pray about it and see if God is telling me the same thing.” Sometimes the answer is yes, but often it is no. If I’m faithful to pray about it, God is faithful to show me if it’s His idea for me or if it’s not the right time or I’m not the right person. My best piece of advice on learning to say no is don’t say yes right away. Take some time to pray and consider it if possible. Look at your prior commitments and think about what God has called you to do.

Learn the value of self-care

If we don’t take care of ourselves, we will not be able to serve others. If we’re too busy trying to please others, we will end up damaging our health and not be able to do what God has called us to do. Think about when you fly and the flight attendant reminds you that the oxygen masks will come down from the compartment above your seat if there is a drop in cabin pressure. What does she say to do? Put your mask on first, then help someone who needs assistance. The same is true for our lives. We’ve got to take care of ourselves before we take care of others. I’m not saying we need to get a massage every week or abandon others to take care of ourselves. It just means we need to set aside regular time for self-care, eat right, exercise, and renew ourselves spiritually.

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