“You just can’t get everyone to like you, Patrice.” Growing up, those were words that I heard from the adults every time I got my feelings hurt because someone disliked me no matter how well I treated them. Yet, the need to be liked by everyone lingered into my adulthood.
This need to please seeped into my relationships in the workplace, in friendships, in dating, and in the church. There were very few places where I wasn’t trying to make everyone happy. While there were times I was able to hold the issue at bay, it was always there in the background of my life. And, to some degree it is still there; although, reaching my 40th birthday made me less concerned with what others thought of me.
For those times when people pleasing takes over my life, God always points to Jesus as a reminder of what a life surrendered totally to God looks like. Think about it. If Jesus gave in to people pleasing, where would we be? I see this clearly in John 4:27 when he was interacting with the Woman at the Well.
The 2012 Women’s Bible Commentary summarizes Jesus’ faux pas this way, “He speaks with a female member of an enemy people.” To speak to a female, especially an unmarried female, was bad enough, but to speak to a Samaritan was just way too much. Yet, Jesus didn’t care one bit. He knew that he had work to do on behalf of God; so, he focused on the task at hand.
Imagine the freedom we have when we place God’s work above people pleasing. Imagine what it would feel like to be at peace with the only opinion that matters.
Today, as you reflect, think of how people pleasing has shown up in your life. If that is not your issue, what prevents you from doing what God desires? Think of what it would be like if you focused on Jesus, Our Only Opinion That Matters.
Source: O’Day, G. R. (2012). Gospel of John. In C. A. Newsom, J. E. Lapsley, & S. H. Ringe (Eds.), Women’s Bible Commentary (Revised and Updated, p. 521). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.