“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain
PLEASING MEN, SERVING CHRIST
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10
I’ll confess this right up front: I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to please people. However, I’m not really a people pleaser. Let me explain.
A people pleaser is one who does everything they can to make those around them feel comfortable and accepted. They go out of their way to serve others, smooth over difficulties and meet the expectations of those around them, even if those expectations are unwarranted, selfish or just plain silly. They habitually give in to those around them in fear of upsetting them, and constantly put their own needs aside to meet the needs of others, even if the others never show gratitude for the sacrifice.
No, I’m not a people pleaser.
However, I do try to please people. How? Through my writing and teaching. Let me try to explain what God has been trying to explain to me.
About a year ago, I found myself hanging out in church after I finished preaching. As I was picking up my Bible and notes, I felt God speak to my heart. “Jim, the only reason you are lingering is so you may hear somebody compliment you on your sermon.”
Okay. That hurt. But God was right. I wasn’t teaching the Word primarily to bring God glory and see lives changed. I was preaching because I wanted to feel the ego buzz I got when somebody complimented me about my sermon.
I’ve found the same thing to be true since I starting blogging. I’m constantly checking my blog stats to see how many people have visited my site. I’m anxious to see who left comments and what they had to say. Even when I’ve written an article for my denominational magazine, I could hardly wait for friends to tell me how much they enjoyed it.
Even though I understand why I seek the approval of men, it doesn’t make it any easier. A few years ago, my wife and I read The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. He says that everyone has a particular way they know they are loved, and he calls this a love language. The five love languages Dr. Chapman has observed are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. My wife’s love language is Quality Time. Can you guess mine? Yep. Words of Affirmation. Mark Twain must have had the same love language, for he said, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” I can go about two days.
Now you know why this Scripture bothers me. Unlike Paul, I’m still trying to please men, and this sometimes comes at the expense of being a servant of Christ. Now, Paul wasn’t saying he was never concerned about pleasing people, for at times he did his best to do just that (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). He was saying he did not try to please men as opposed to pleasing God. Given the choice between pleasing men and pleasing God, Paul chose God every time. I haven’t always been so successful.
I’m not a people pleaser; I’m a Jim pleaser, and I think that is worse. However, the good news is I only have one person I need to disappoint in order to focus my attentions on God. But that’s okay. I’ll get over it.