Friends, let me just tell you that I am a bona-fide people pleaser. Jonathan talked about Enneagram in our last blog post and my number is called “the Peacemaker.” My number one strength on StrengthsFinder is “Harmonizing.”
When healthy, I know that there are benefits to being a peacemaker and harmonizer. I’m told that the world needs people like me! But if I’m honest, these “strengths” in my personality have also been a stumbling block my whole life and I’ve had a hard time not seeing them as pure weaknesses.
I want to bring a sense of “peace” to everything. But, I’m slowly learning, that some tension is needed in life from time to time. Bandaid peace can be a real hinderance to deep healing peace — and I’m usually found slapping bandaids on everything and everyone! I’ll even appear to change what I think and what I want if it will keep you from being upset or even mildly frustrated. All in the “nice-sounding, nice-looking name of keeping the peace.
In my flesh, this seems wise to me! If I can make you happy with me, why wouldn’t I do that? Why would I deliberately choose something that would make someone frustrated?
Those of you with logical brains already see one major problem with this “wisdom.” There are a LOT of people in this world. A lot of people in my world. Too many people with conflicting expectations means that it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for me to please everyone. On top of that, sometimes there is a lot of sin mixed in with other people’s expectations and frustrations — which simply means, sometimes it’s not wise at all for me to give-in to every upset feeling.
As I suspect many do, I would look at a verse like the one above and nod my head in agreement. Of course! God alone is wise and powerful! But when His wisdom conflicts with my “wisdom,” I’m suddenly not so sure.
As I said before, my whole life I’ve believe that people-pleasing equals wisdom. I would never normally say it like this, but I often believe that fear of man and fear of conflict is wisdom. In my frantic need to achieve I’ve believed that my productivity and my sense of accomplishment is power! With sheer grit (and a healthy dose of anxiety) I “power” through my days trying to manage all the potential ways I could “fail” today.
Though I nod and agree that God alone is wise and powerful, I become a little unsure when I read things like the verse below:
Hate? Do I think that Jesus is calling me to literally hate? No. But I do think He is calling me to have priorities that might be interpreted as “hate” by others. He is saying that I likely will need to make decisions that others in my life won’t like. They might even accuse me of not really loving them.
The wisdom of God includes intentionally upsetting people — and at first listen, that doesn’t sound like wisdom to me. In fact, if I’m honest, it sounds terrifying and awful.
This leaves me with a choice to make. Does wisdom and power truly belong to God alone? Am I going to trust His counsel even if it leads me into tension and a lack of peace with others?
I have a feeling I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who struggles with people-pleasing — but even if that isn’t your struggle, I’m betting that that there are things that seem wise to you that are challenged when confronted with the wisdom of God. Everyday we have a choice to either deny the wisdom of God, ignore the wisdom of God, or bend to the wisdom of God. I want to encourage you to pick option three as often as you can. And please pray for me to do the same. It’s a daily (moment by moment) fight, and the struggle is real!
Here are some fighting verses to help us remember to bend to the good wisdom of our God.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD will be safe.
Do you struggle with people-pleasing?