• Richard Collins

Pleasing the People - Part Two

People pleaser.

Last time, I looked at this issue and perhaps you shifted uneasily in your seat, knowing that the term referred to you. Partly, at least.

People-pleasing can run very deep. Sometimes, it’s so unconscious, that you’re not even aware that you’re doing it. Running from one meeting to another, working ridiculous hours because there are people out there who need to be served. What would they think if they thought I was watching TV when I could have been counselling or doing sermon prep? You can see how people-pleasing leads to overwork, which is never a good idea.

So what’s the answer?

Well, I mentioned the most obvious answer last time, but it’s worth labouring the point. Os Guinness uses a phrase which people-pleasing leaders need to put on their desks and look at every day. Here it is:

An Audience of One.

It seems so obvious, so simple, yet for people-pleasing leaders, it’s almost impossible to fulfil. Oh, we say we live for an Audience of One, but our behaviour doesn’t reflect that. We’re tugged this way and that by the opinions and demands of our people. Ever get feedback from your congregation on how you’re doing? How does it make you feel? People-pleasers are both gratified and discouraged by those forms. They like me! No, they don’t, they’re leaving. Up and down go the emotions.

‘But I’m just human. I don’t live in a bubble. I have feelings. What’s wrong with that!?'

Nothing wrong with emotions. What’s wrong is when the regard of others begins to move us in ways that aren’t healthy. There is a spectrum here. Somewhere along that line, people-pleasers get lost. They profess to live for the Audience of One, but inside what people think begins to take precedence. The opinions of others begin to push a people-pleasing leader around and when this happens, they get hurt.

Meditating daily on the idea that we live for an Audience of One can help. Do it today. Christ is your North Star, a rock who never changes, who loves you the same every day. Regardless of how good your sermon is, or how many meetings you attend or how well you’re coping. Every second of every day must be surrendered to Christ, and him alone. Stop worrying about what others think, and start thinking about pleasing your master, who loves you. If you watch some TV at the end of the day, you know, that’s okay. It really is. And you don’t need to explain yourself to others. You don’t.

Next time, I’ll look at a challenging issue for people-pleasers: It’s okay not to be liked.

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