The Wisdom of Upsetting People

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.

To God alone belongs wisdom and power. Counsel and understanding are His.
Job 12:13

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:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26

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.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death
Proverbs 14:12

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD will be safe.
Proverbs 29:25

Do you struggle with people-pleasing?

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. such wisdom Jonathan ….thank you for sharing. I believe in the scope of eternity that we will see how unwise it is to please people and not GOD. Who holds our eternity, even our next breath? it is surely not man. GOD holds everything. To trust in anything else is just folly.
    love y’all

    the gore’s

  2. This article spoke right toward a lot of the same struggles I’ve had in life and overlapped with a bunch of others I’ve struggled with. I’ve known this and heard this but thanks for being open and real and laying it all out there logically and in context with scripture – this has made my day and was so refreshing – to not just hear it again but hear it broken down and explained from a real life perspective of a fellow struggler in the journey. True and great stuff. Thanks Emily.

  3. Emily,
    Thank you so much for your obedience to the Lord in writing this hard post. I cannot tell you how deeply it has spoken to me and affirmed me in a very difficult time with my family of origin. I have always been the harmonizer, the peacemaker, the one who makes everyone feel better – you know- all the people. 😉 I am bending towards God’s wisdom and putting up some very hard boundaries to protect my own little family from the strain this causes on my heart and ultimately, my mothering. My family of origin does not like it a bit and I have definitely felt persecuted, “hated” and alone. It hurts. My family of origin are not Christians and my desire to show them Christ also impacts my need to people please. This post has affirmed what God has been continuously saying to me through His word, meditation and wise counsel, that sometimes it is wise to disagree. Thank you for stepping out in faith and sharing your heart in this. I will most certainly pray for you and appreciate your prayers for me. May the Lord bless you.

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