Confessions of a People PleaserThursday, August 21, 2014
Let me start at the beginning. I am the youngest of four children. The last of the litter, as I like to say. In addition, the age difference between my next sibling and me is 6 years. Then, there is a 9 year gap and then 11. So, as a child, I was still in kindergarten when my siblings were teens. Being the “baby” had its perks but it also came with some drawbacks. In my case, I was the child who was expected to make everything OK when there were disagreements in our home, a weight I have learned, that should never be placed on a child. When an older sibling acted out, as most children sometimes do, I was the one to bring peace to the family even though I was very little. I didn’t choose the role, but instead, it was something that I slipped into without even realizing it. I seemed to be able to make my parents (or my siblings) smile when they were angry or laugh when they were sad. And, as a child, I certainly didn’t like it when anyone I loved was angry or sad.
So, I automatically went into “people pleasing” mode when conflicts occurred. I’m sure in many families there is someone who has a similar role. For me, though, this desire to make people happy in my family, spilled over into the other parts of my life. As I grew, I avoided conflict like the plague. As a result, I said “yes” more times than “no” and got myself into situations that I shouldn’t have, all just to try to make others happy to the detriment of my own emotional well-being.
This is something that I’ve struggled with for much of my life. As I matured, however, this people pleasing attitude mainly showed its face with certain personalities. I had a level head with most people. But still, there were those, usually domineering or controlling individuals, who knew how to push my buttons and get me to drop everything simply to serve them. It didn’t matter if I wanted my husband to be first, or my family to be first…or even better, for God to be first. I was expected to drop everything to make them happy. If I didn’t, I was burdened with inner conflict and guilt. But, this is not what God wants for us. Jesus has removed our guilt and taken our burdens to the cross. He wants us to live freely and joyfully for Him!
As I prayed desperately for strength and for the ability to set healthy boundaries, I have finally learned the secret. When I was truly honest with myself, listened to God and organized my priorities correctly, putting God above all else, my struggle with people-pleasing began to lesson. God put things in an order on purpose. He knew that setting a clear order of priorities for us would make our lives simpler, less stressful and healthier emotionally. By looking to the scriptures, we can see a clear list of priorities to help us as we seek to honor Christ with our lives. There are many publications on this topic, but below I’ve typed a quick list of the order God wishes us to maintain our priorities as adults:
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." Romans 12;10
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19