Pleasing God or Man?
Something the Lord has been teaching me throughout my whole life, but especially here at college, is to strive to please Him over people.
I have been a people-pleaser since before I could talk. In elementary school, I would get worried sick about who to sit with on the bus in fear that whichever friend I chose, the other would get mad. I had to learn that I physically could not please everyone all the time. My fear of upsetting people become a huge roadblock in my life.
As Christians, we often get so held down by making sure to put others before ourselves. It says in the Bible to “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). But just like anything in life, pleasing others can become an idol. When our focus to please others comes before pleasing God, we commit idolatry. Yes, being kind to people is what God commands us to do, but His first commandment is for us to “have no other gods before [Him]” (Exodus 20:3).
In fact, people-pleasing is often rooted in selfishness. Why do we worry so much about pleasing others? Is it truly because God tells us to be kind? Or do we have other motives? I’ve come to realize that often I am scared that if I do not please a person, I will look bad. Sometimes we do not realize that our reputation and image is something we focus on more than God.
In college, God has been revealing this weakness in my life specifically in my relationships with my professors. He has shown me that instead of doing my work just to please my professors or to receive a good grade, my ultimate concern should be to glorify God. Of course, God wants us to respect our professors since they have authority over us. But when pleasing our professors becomes something we worry about that distracts us from glorifying God, it is spiritually unhealthy. Letting go of what other people think of you is incredibly freeing. Don’t be afraid to do so.
Recently, God revealed to me Ephesians 6:5-9. It has given me encouragement and serves as a reminder to please God over people. When we do that, it frees us from constant stress and worry. It frees us to have room to grow into who God created us to be. And it makes us much happier. I hope it can provide the same for you.