Stop Being So Nice: People Pleasing Isn’t Christ-Like

Are you tired of keeping up an image? Tired of all these “shoulds” that you think bind you “since you’re a Christian”? Do you ever feel not good enough to call yourself a Christian because of what you do?

Well these issues can stem from many places but one of the main ones is being nice. Somewhere along the way we’ve settled for a cheap niceness in the place of Christ-like love.  

Being nice?! I thought that was a good thing! 

Nope! Here we’re talking about niceness, people-pleasing niceness. And it just might be wearing you out from the inside. Let me blow your mind real quick:

there are two types of people pleasing – and one is even good

People pleasing can stem from the motive of trying to please for personal gain (which is what we call niceness in this post) or trying to please out of a place of sacrificial and healthy love (which is love). 

How to Tell the Difference

Telling whether you are people pleasing in a good way or bad way can be hard to distinguish because naturally, when you please someone else you will most likely get benefited and have to sacrifice in both types of situations.  

Lucky for us, the outcomes of the two are totally different, and a lot of them are external and internal!

Let’s take a look at some of those differences: 

Try asking yourself:

  • Am I trying to please them mostly to gain their approval/make them like me?
  • Am I trying to make them happy to get something from them (favor, an internship, anything)?
  • Do I treat people of lower status (and status can just mean someone’s “coolness” status)/power this way?
  • Would I be totally happy with them knowing my intentions?
  • Am I showing them the real me or putting up a front? Do I actually feel seen and heard?
  • Could I happily do this long term?
  • Am I thinking more about them or me when interacting with them?
  • Am I scared of losing something? Or revealing parts of myself? 

These two will mesh together all the time! But it’s great to distinguish between the two so we can move further towards acting out of a place of abundance, love, and security.

We Can’t Settle for Bad People-Pleasing

From the table above, it’s easy to see why boldly loving Christians turning into fearfully people-pleasing Christians breaks God’s heart. Paul talks about this to the church in Galatia:

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.

Galations 1:10 (ESV)

From this we see, we simply can’t settle for people-pleasing. It puts too much weight on the opinions of man and can lead us to act in ways that aren’t Christ-like. To be clear, this doesn’t change God’s love for you one bit, He’d just love to set you free from it.

How to Stop People Pleasing (the Bad Way)

After you’ve realized where you actions stem from, you’re through with half the battle! A lot of the time, action steps will become clear to you from there for your specific situation. However, here are some general suggestions to add to your toolkit: 

  1. Realize that it’s impossible to please everyone. You may think you know this, but have you realized it? Or does your subconscious still expect it of you?
  2. Realize that God never expected everyone to like you. Yes, even if you became the perfect most loving Christian, not everyone would like/love you! And sometimes we project our own imperfect expectations of ourselves and start thinking God expects the same. But not a single person in the Bible managed to get everyone to like them (in fact if that’s happening, you’re probably doing something wrong).
  3. Enforce clear boundaries. This ensures that you don’t burn yourself out or stretch too thin trying to make others happy! And this applies to both good and bad people pleasing, don’t neglect yourself!
  4. Get your priorities straight. Bad people pleasing might not seem like a sin, but it sure is killing any chance of truthfulness about who you are, cultivation of deep relationships, and growth into a more right representation of Christ.
  5. Don’t keep saying “just this time”. Especially with uppers and when opportunities are on the line, it’s easy to treat people as means to an end. But this isn’t ok. There will always be the next opportunity and the next person to please. Imagine what it would be like to people-please forever! Now is the time to make sure that doesn’t happen.
  6. Ask God for help. He is the one who created you after all, so definitely ask for his support, strength, and way of looking at people!

The point? Getting everyone to like you isn’t. the. goal.

But, that said, be really graceful with yourself throughout this whole journey! Just like breaking any bad habit, you’ll have set-backs. And your effort in this is very honorable.

– Cynthia

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