I once spoke at a retreat about Transparency. The final session was on Sunday morning, and I felt led to forego all the finery we women indulge before we gather together. No perfume, no make-up, no jewelry, no hair-curling or hairspray; and I wore sweats and slippers. (I DID take a shower, BTW.) You should have seen the stares at breakfast. Suddenly, no one wanted to sit with the speaker, and I felt EXTREMELY awkward!
I taught the session entitled, “Transparency–Refusing to Abide Barriers” (I hope you see the irony in that). Several ladies came up afterward, laughing, hugging, and understanding my “object lesson” from breakfast. I felt a huge relief that I could finally go to my room and put on a little make-up…WAIT!
- Why did I need to put on make-up?
- Why did I feel relieved when I gained their approval?
People-Pleasing–the Insidious Intruder
Just to show how sneaky People-Pleasing can be, did you notice my parenthetical statement above about taking a shower? That was People-Pleasing–an attempt to justify my actions, sway your opinion in my favor. People-Pleasing comes in many forms–words and actions that slip unnoticed into our daily lives.
Did Jesus Struggle With People-Pleasing?
The simple answer is, We don’t know if Jesus struggled with People-Pleasing, but since Scripture tells us He was tested in every way–I think He was tempted to seek approval just like the rest of us! But when I read John 2 recently, I had to marvel at His boldness. Let me set the stage:
Jesus called His first five disciples (John, Andrew, Peter, Phillip, and Nathaneal) and then attended a wedding in Cana, where He performed His first miracle (turning water to wine at His mother’s prodding). John tells us, “He thus revealed his glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him.” (Jn. 2:11)
What Happens Next?
“After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” John 2:12-13
Notice, after Jesus’ first miracle, His mother, BROTHERS, and His disciples followed him. Scripture doesn’t say whether His mother and brothers went to Jerusalem with Him later, but I’d imagine if they believed Him to be the long-awaited Messiah, they probably went along to see the show! And BOY…was there a show…
“In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’” John 2:14-16
No People-Pleasing There!
Jesus took His time while making a scene at the Temple. It wasn’t an impulsive, panting, fit of rage. He fashioned a whip, scattered coins, and then had a li’l chat with the dove-sellers. Jesus took the time to offend EVERYONE! And how do you think His mother, brothers, and disciples felt about Him now? John tells us that the disciples LATER remembered this incident as proof of His divinity, but we know from later in John’s Gospel (7:5), Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in Him anymore. That couldn’t have been easy for the Savior.
First Remedy For People-Pleasing:
What empowered Jesus to clear the Temple…
- regardless of His family’s opinion?
- regardless of the Jewish leaders’ opinions?
- regardless of His new disciples’ opinions?
The answer lies in Jesus’ identity–Who did HE know Himself to be? How would He describe Himself?
“…How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” John 2:16b
“Because you are sons [daughters], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Galatians 4:6
Jesus knew WHO He was and WHOSE He was. He protected His Father’s house because He was an Heir to His Father’s Throne. He answered to a higher Authority and He gained approval from One whose love was eternal.
Second Remedy For People-Pleasing:
Joshua was called to follow in the footsteps of Israel’s greatest leader–and God said, “Don’t worry about it!” How could Joshua NOT become a people-pleaser? This was God’s advice:
“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6-7
When we meditate on WHO’S in charge and WHO walks with us, our focus shifts from People-Pleasing to obedience. Our courage is based on God’s unyielding presence and almighty power, and the uncertainties of people’s fickle allegiance becomes suddenly less important.
- Can I ever be free from People-Pleasing? Jesus gives us His example in John 2!
- God offers remedies for People-Pleasing; how do you define your Identity and Purpose?
- Know who you are and Whose you are, and wave good-bye to people-pleasing.
- What lies have you believed about WHO you are that keep you bound to others’ opinion?
- How can meditating on “Who you are IN CHRIST” free you from people-pleasing?