“Am I now trying to win 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 hold this portion of scripture to be true then perhaps the converse is also true – A servant of Christ is not a people pleaser. A people lover, a people leader, a peacemaker, yes …but not a people pleaser.
Many of us buy into the idea that being a good Christian means that you are trying to please people. Maybe this is because we are called to give, to serve, to help the orphans and the widows and to be the Good Samaritan that stops his day and saves a complete stranger. Sounds like some really self-sacrificial people pleasing stuff. However, the motive behind all of these actions should be birthed from our devotion to Christ and our growing relationship with him. Our actions are to be a result of God’s leading and his cultivation of a loving heart in our inner man or woman. Moreover God’s mission is to love, serve and save mankind and we as servants of Christ are the tools for this purpose but it must all begin and end with following Christ.
Actually being a servant of Christ and being a people pleaser directly contradict each other. A people pleaser tries to find out what makes people happy and then goes about doing those things. The aim is to gain their affection, to be respected, accepted and admired for having made their lives better. This feeling of making the lives of other better and their resulting gratitude and adoration can be nothing less than intoxicating; nothing less than a ‘high’ that is strived for and ultimately become the god in our lives. Don’t get me wrong – it is great to help others and we can enjoy the good feeling that comes with it, but there is a real danger in making that feeling inspire our actions rather than pleasing the Lord.
If we take a second look at the scripture reference, we see that Paul also says that he is “no longer a people pleaser” – which suggests that before his encounter with Christ he was about pleasing people. Some of us, before accepting Christ as King, were trying to please some important person in our lives – a friend, a parent, a boss, a boyfriend, society or even ourselves. But when we accept Christ’s salvation, we are expected to remove all of those people from the highest place in our hearts and enthrone Jesus. It means that all of our actions should now emerge from our love for Christ, His love for us and a pursuit and understanding of his will. We are now followers, like the 12 disciples, so we follow and do what he says, go where he leads – all the while being transformed by the Holy Spirit.
So our missions is not to please people, it is to please Christ. Nevertheless we are still expected and are being groomed to love, serve, empower, help and heal people and if that pleases them, then great. There is tremendous freedom here, from the shackles of expectations. A parent may have wanted you to study law and marry your doctor friend rather than study the arts and get hitched to a musician. Or a friend may want you to side with them in a family dispute rather than tell them the truth, but as a servant of Christ, your mission is to discern God’s will in those situations and extend a hand of love and grace.
This gives us the amazing freedom to focus on God’s heart and his will first and allow Him to determine our actions and decisions with our friends, family and strangers.
So let’s make a decision to please God and not be a people pleaser. Don’t be manipulated by others or pressured by church culture, rather be submissive to God and the gentle leading of his spirit and his love. Let that be the engine that drives how you serve as a servant of Christ.