Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I had a conversation with someone pretty recently on people pleasing vs God pleasing.
What’s the difference?
About ten years ago a situation I was in comes to mind to aid in understanding.
My then-current employer announced a job opening. Several in the office, including a couple of people in leadership, were nudging me to pursue the promotion. My strongest competition-according to a manager off record-was a newly hired lady who had a little bit of leadership experience. However, her numbers were much lower than mine and she tended to clash with others. I was rather easy going and well liked.
But I didn’t even get a second interview.
The job went to the newly hired lady. The one no one on my team liked. The one with mediocre numbers. And after stepping into her new position, I had to correct her more than once. I wouldn’t have succeeded for the client if I heeded her advice. It was frustrating. To make matters worse, one time she pulled me aside at work and told me the Holy Spirit revealed to her I was a believer.
God dealt with me strongly about my less-than-stellar attitude. I needed to walk in love. Whether or not I like her.
Luke 6:32, 35 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
So, I started being kind to this newly appointed manager. For the holidays I brought in cookies for her and the team. I gave her compliments. I prayed for her. I even almost started to like her. Then one day someone said to me casually over lunch, “I never thought you were the butt kisser type.”
All of a sudden I stopped my kindness to this woman. I wondered what people were thinking. If coworkers were around, I was quiet and colder to her. After all, I didn’t want to be misjudged or misunderstood.
Ironically, when I was actually trying to please God some saw it as people pleasing. When I stopped deliberately loving, I was then people pleasing. I cared more for the approval of others than God.
I’ve learned that no matter how pure your heart intentions are, if someone wants to find fault they will. Every gift, comment, gesture, smile etc will be twisted to their perception. If we spend our lives worried about that, we will never live as the bondservants of Christ we are called to be.
Keep on loving people. Do good. Walk kindly. You will receive the pleasure of God.
And there’s nothing I want more.
Father, help us keep our eyes on You and do Your will for our lives. Help us not to misjudge and forgive our presumptuous sin. May we learn to give mercy and the benefit of the doubt to others. Your opinion of us matters most, Lord. May our words and actions bring you pleasure. Amen.