People-pleasing doesn’t make you a good Christian

If God has made you his own and the Holy Spirit has worked faith in your heart, it makes sense that that reality would change how you treat other people.

After all, the Bible instructs us as the children of God: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:1,2 NLT). 

I’m concerned about the number of Christians who confuse this kind of love with people-pleasing.

Yes, the Bible does talk a lot about loving others. And to follow Jesus’ example is no small task. For goodness’ sake, the man was perfectly innocent, and yet he willingly died because he loved even his enemies enough to give up his life. Whoa.

Jesus definitely sacrificed himself, his needs, and his agenda a number of times throughout his ministry, but when you look at him as a whole, he wasn’t a people-pleaser. 

He didn’t say yes to everything.

He didn’t meet everyone’s needs.

He prioritized quiet time alone.

He didn’t care about everyone liking him.

Jesus was the ultimate, ultimate picture of love, but love is different than people-pleasing.

What’s the difference? 

I asked some wise friends for input! 

  1. People-pleasing often stems from our own fears and insecurities. Christian love stems from sincere love of God and others. “Christian love is caring for and meeting the needs of the other person. People-pleasing may be doing the same things, but the motivation is meeting an unmet core longing of your own.”—Dena 
  2. People-pleasing puts peace ahead of truth. Christian love honors God’s truth. “People-pleasers avoid confrontation at all cost, but Christian love calls us to correct our brothers and sisters in Christ.”—Carolyn
  3. People-pleasing drains you. Christian love can—through the Holy Spirit’s power—recharge you, even when it demands much of you. “People-pleasing never satisfies self; someone always wants more or different, which drains your love tank. God-pleasing out of Christian love satisfies self because conscience knows it is the right thing to do no matter the cost. It refills your love tank, thus making you want to do even more.”—Mary Jo 
  4. People-pleasing focuses more on others’ approval than on God’s. “People-pleasing focuses on us, a false sense of pride for ‘doing it all,’ fear of people not liking us (which we prioritize over obedience to what God actually asks of us), etc.”—Valerie

Friends, this is good news! 

God doesn’t ask you to never say no. 

God doesn’t ask you to be all things to all people. 

God doesn’t ask you to sacrifice your alone time with him so you can keep up with everyone else’s needs. 

Nope.

Instead—because of his own incredible love for us—he asks us to love him above all, and to love others as well, following his perfect example. Since we’re not God, we’ll never “nail it” perfectly, no matter how hard we try. But never underestimate the Holy Spirit’s power within you, to love sincerely and in a way that’s ultimately all about God’s glory! 

 

Diana Kerr is a certified professional life coach for go-getter Christian women. If you struggle with honoring your priorities as a Christian (including how to choose love versus people-pleasing), check out this FREE workbook from Diana: “3 Lies about Time Christian Women Tell Themselves & 3 Truths That Will Set You Free.”