Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23
I think I was either born a people-pleaser, or I became one very quickly after I entered this world. For a very long time, the world told me that was just “who I am” and that I should embrace it and be true to myself. I can see why – it benefits quite a few people to have a lot of people pleasers around them.
But does it benefit that person or their relationship with God? Does it really even benefit those they are seeking to please or appease?
Everyone is different when it comes to their makeup – their motivations and intentions can vary at different times and in regard to different things. So make no mistake: I am not suggesting that serving or encouraging others is always rooted in something self-serving instead.
But I have found myself many times over the years struggling with what you might call a checks and balances of sorts, in regard to whether I am encouraging someone because of true and right motives that would bring glory to God, or stepping over the line back into self-driven people pleasing behavior. It’s another fine line that I struggle with, friends. I have lots of those.
I still haven’t figured out if my people-pleasing tendencies came from one thing that was the driving force behind my need to please others, or a multitude of things. I may never really pinpoint that. I can say, however, much of it has seemed to have been due to a mixture of things – and over time, they became scary and dangerous things.
They drove me into a place of need and reliance – slavery to the wrong thing, really. I still go there sometimes.
It can be dangerous to my relationship and reliance upon God ~ and Him alone.
It’s detrimental when I cross that line to my own family and close friends.
It is most certainly and undoubtedly, dangerous to myself. Health-wise, emotional-wise, and spiritually too.
But I have learned so much and grown so much ever since God opened my eyes to this problem area in my life. The greatest thing I have learned is that I will always have to turn to him in this area….”balance” is not a reality in my life when it comes to this. I always run the risk of crossing back over that line, and I have to do heart checks with the Lord over this constantly. It is a battle I cannot wage alone.
A couple of gifts I feel the Lord has given me surround discernment, and a particular and unique brand of encouragement for others through an understanding that comes out of that discerning nature. Most who are very discerning have empathy for others, or at the very least, truly can put themselves in the shoes of others when picking up on feelings and root causes and in turn, trying to be there for those folks.
This can be a blessing, and at times, can seem like a curse.
What I have come to believe, is that any blessing or gift from God can become something that is not glorifying to Him if we aren’t cautious to keep turning it back over to Him. Again and again and again. We taint things when we take the reins.
“Remember where your place is, Annie. Remember who gave you these gifts. Remember who they are for. And remember who comes first.”
He, in contrast, cleanses. We have only to surrender.
The easy way out would be to either use the gift for self and just go with it, or turn our backs on it entirely. Neither of those are the way Jesus does things in and through us if we are truly following after Him and His will.
I have been really moved to study the life of Jesus in a focused way over the last couple of months, and I expect this to be a central point my attention will be given to for quite some time to come. When checking on things, I am going to the words that Jesus Himself spoke. I am also looking at how He lived his life while here on earth.
We always think we are doing that – as true followers after Jesus (looking at His life). But I feel the Lord is guiding me to really take a hard and intent look….really focused!
And truly FOLLOW.
Imagine myself being there – watching Him.
Observing and learning from Him.
Asking for help to become more like Him.
And there’s no easy way in our out when it comes to that. It’s hard. We cannot do it in our own power.
Jesus is the ultimate giver – the One who made the greatest sacrifice of all. But Jesus was not a people pleaser. I am learning much about how He might have me use the gifts he has given me in a more glorifying way – one in which I can still seek to understand others and be there for them, yet not take away from caring for myself and what I am called to do to protect my relationship with the Father and my family.
I can’t say it enough: this is a monumental task, and one I cannot do alone.
I have prayed for and taken steps in this area with God for a long time, dear friends. I do not feel called in any way to stop encouraging others. I DO feel called to figure out how to take care of myself, and retreat for daily replenishment and time with the Father before I get burned out. And I want to spend quality time with Him. I struggle to do that in my day to day life.
That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what I need to do. This girl doesn’t know how. This girl is weak. This girl struggles in so many ways.
Thank God for His strength and power and wisdom. Thank God!
I will be writing several times over the next few posts about what I am learning in this area. The first, is the need to set boundaries – particularly the ones that are really, really hard to set. You know…the ones that people like me have ingrained in our hearts and minds that end up translating to what we think or fear is “selfish” but aren’t really selfish at all. The ones that cause conflict, or the uncomfortable feelings of letting other people down.
I have found that it is me – ME – who needs to be “okay with that” – so much more than others around me.
I have to work with the Lord on getting myself off the hook in the areas that are holding me back from the freedom He wants me to have where I feel he is calling me to be ON the hook.
Oh, what a long road it seems in front of me in this area that is certainly not new to me – what a long journey. I am so grateful He is there with me – guiding me – reeling me back in when I veer too far off the road.
This brings out the ugly in anyone, I can assure you. But that ugly will eventually be replaced with beauty, revitalization, a different kind of joy and peace, and effectiveness.
Bring it on.
Step 1: Basic Needs – I have already started this process and I must say, my husband has been a great help to me. Unfortunately, I waited far too long and burned completely out before I sought help. So this is a major process that isn’t going to happen overnight. Then, I have to learn what the new boundaries will be – once I am healed. That will be another process.
Jesus never apologized for taking care of himself so that he would avoid burnout and serving more than one master. He never apologized for seeking prayer, support, time away with the Father, rest, and striving for a pace of life that is glorifying to the Father (and far more effective than one entailed with rushing and running all the time).
If you, like me, have a great sense of responsibility, but tend to put taking care of yourself on the back burner, it is a disservice to God, and I welcome you to join me. Habits are hard to break – for the person trying to change and for those around them who have gotten used to the way things were.
But with God’s help – we can do this.
We can do this and still encourage others in the name of Jesus – we just have to find new ways to do so.
We will draw closer to God as we replenish and the fruit of what he brings about will just naturally flow from us, rather than being a burden and over-exertion.
God may teach others about some areas in which He’d like to see them grow as a result of the changes our own lives are creating in their own.
The beautiful and divine balance of truth AND love will be much easier to be seen if we take care of ourselves and others in the name of Jesus!
I can’t wait to hear what you are learning as well as what you may be struggling with as you seek His grace in your own endeavors.
Do you find yourself not liking the pace you are keeping in life? Do you feel like a slave to something that shouldn’t have such a grip on you? Are you finding yourself at war within regarding all of your priorities and responsibilities? Do you cry out to God and ask Him to fix it? Have you shared with Him that you want to get better and live life the way Jesus did? What are you willing to surrender to him in order to let him help you today? What can we do today to take care of ourselves better and our relationship with Christ so we can actually truly be there for others instead of simply pleasing them?
Won’t you join me, friends? Won’t you join me in the beautiful process of allowing Christ to set our priorities in line with HIS? Let’s take the first step into this aspect of freedom we have in Him together, shall we?
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13