Oct 032014 3 Responses

Don’t Please People, Love Them

Attempting to please people is not the same as loving them.

I am a people-pleaser. Many pastors are.

Generally, my attempt to please others expresses itself in kindness, concern, and a willingness to submit my own desires for that of another.

It mimics love. And often times it is love.

But not always. (See: ‘God Is Love’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think)

Sometimes my desire to please people has very little to do with the people I’m trying to please and very much to do with myself. It might appear that I’m thinking about them, but I’m only thinking about them in reference to me.

  • How would this make me look?
  • How will they feel about me?
  • What will be my reputation?

People-pleasing might appear loving but it isn’t. It’s selfishness masquerading as selflessness. It’s pride attempting to appear as humility. It’s self-centeredness acting like we are concerned for others.

People-pleasing may be one of the most dangerous activities because it is so easy to convince ourselves we are loving people. We can make a list of the sacrifices we have made for others—forgetting that the very presence of a list shows we have kept a record in order to prove our sacrifice.

Acting out of a desire to please people is not an act of love because it is using others to form our own sense of identity and satisfaction.

It might appear as love, but it is not love. To love someone is to act in their best interest–no matter how they feel about it.

While I often desire to please people, my actual call is to love people. (See: You Don’t Have to Scratch Mine)

The difference:

Pleasing people is doing what they believe is best.

Loving people is doing what is actually best.

If people are always pleased by you then you are not always loving them. Love is what causes a parent to discipline their child. It forces a boss to tell an employee they might need a different career path. It causes a doctor to give a child a shot.

Love often displeases people. We don’t always want what is best for us. We want what is comfortable. When someone makes us comfortable, we are pleased by them. We often find comfort in the pleasure of others.

Love isn’t so comfortable.

It can actually be offensive. (See: Love Doesn’t Always Feel Loving)

Upholding a reasonable boundary with your mother-in-law can offend her.

Compassionately, but honestly, telling the truth can hurt the feelings of others.

Allowing someone to experience the consequences of their decision-making can frustrate them.

A people-pleaser would struggle to take any of those actions. Someone acting in love might have to make those exact choices on a regularl basis.

Too often, I am overly concerned with not offending people, but under-concerned about truly loving others.

Love always does what is best for the other person no matter how that person feels about an action. Love is unmoved by the response and makes a decision solely based on what is best.

People-pleasing always focuses on the response. How will the other person react if I do a certain action? If I like their response, I do the action. If I don’t like their response, I do not do the action. (See: An Equation for Discovering God’s Best)

There is a simple distinction between people-pleasing and love:

People-pleasing is always about me.

Love is always about the other.

Which are you about?

3 Responses to Don’t Please People, Love Them
  1. Carl Norris Reply

    Agape Love – Always doing what is best for another person, even if it is hard and even if it is costly.

  2. Michele Reply

    I don’t often know what’s best for others when I don’t even know what is best to do myself.

  3. Serhii Reply

    I got this idea today. So glad to read this.

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