(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Saying No to People Pleasing
By Brittney Perez
One of the many things I love about God is His unique attention to detail. When God created mankind, He gave each person a unique personality and characteristics. If you’re like me, maybe there are some aspects to your personality that leave you asking, “Why am I the way I am?” If that’s you sometimes, don’t worry. I’m totally there with you! God formed us each in a unique way, but unfortunately, we are people with different flaws that need to ask God to help us overcome.
One area of my personality that I have often struggled with is people pleasing. People pleasing can be understood as seeking to please others or seeking approval from others. Now seeking to please people isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wanting to please people like your family, friends, boss, etc. can simply mean you care. You want them to do well and you love people, which of course, is a good thing! People pleasing starts to become negative when we begin to feel obligated to please others and, in turn, act on that feeling at the cost of our own desires and needs. This can be mentally and emotionally draining when people pleasing becomes a pattern.
There have been seasons of my life where I have been more of a people pleaser. I would find myself always saying yes to things such as requests to change shifts with a co-worker or help out with an event. The list goes on. Many times my heart would want to do these things. I like helping people and being a blessing to others. Saying yes isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes we need to learn to say no. That’s the thing. Many times I would feel bad saying no so I would say yes because the opposite of no is, of course, yes! There needs to be balance. Sometimes we need to say yes and other times we need to say no. That’s okay. I once heard that, “saying no to one thing can mean saying yes to something else, and possibly saying yes to something you’ve been wanting to do.” I love that. There are things in life we desire to do and need to do, but we can’t do everything. There is only so much time we have to give. When we say no to certain things, it can create opportunities to saying yes to other things. What we truly need to ask God for is that balance and what we should say yes or no to.
I love what Paul says in Galatians 1:10. “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.” In context, Paul is talking about seeking to please God and His message about Jesus which was not the message that others were preaching. Their preaching was false and contrary to the message the people had first received about Jesus. We need to be careful. Sometimes in seeking to please others we can even go against what we know is right. In the end, we should be seeking to be God pleasers and not people pleasers. Now that’s not to say we should throw out entirely what people think because, of course, we want to respect and love others. However, in the end, seeking to please God is of most importance (Acts 5:29).
If you are struggling with people pleasing and want to discern when to say yes or no, present your request to God in prayer. Take your request into the throne room of His grace where you will find grace to help you in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Ask the Lord to give you balance, discernment of His will, confidence in your decisions, peace instead of fear of what others may think or say, and the ability and strength to follow through with what He shows you. Let’s be God pleasers instead of people pleasers.