Last week we were talking about the third self-esteem killer—people pleasing. This assassin is big enough to need two weeks to fully cover…and by fully I mean as much as I can in a blog, many books have been written that could extend the conversation about this topic for a very long time. This week we will pick up where we left off. If you missed last week’s post I highly recommend reading part one before continuing on with the third way to overcome this killer.
3. Understand what personal integrity is
We often relate integrity to the idea of ‘doing the right thing even when no is looking.’ While true this concept has a much larger foundation than just our good ‘doing’ behavior, it rests on our ‘being.’
Integrity is about ‘being the same in public as you are in private.’ Being the same to someone’s face as you are behind their back. Being the same on the inside as you are on the outside. You can often tell if you are doing things or making choices based on pleasing people because you will feel the lack of integrity that comes in the process. Feeling ‘out of sync’ or ‘off-balance’ or ‘not centered,’ are all indicators that you are lacking congruity between who you are (what you say you value) and your behavior. All of which can greatly impact your quality of life.
Living in a small town the pressure to have your kids play on sports teams is very real—in order to have enough bodies if nothing else. For a few years we had our son participate in a sport every season—football to basketball to baseball. What we came to discover however is that as a family we don’t value sports as much as other families do. We simply have other things we would prefer to do than sit at ball games every weekend. So this year we paired down to only one sport which has helped us feel like we are living more congruently and centered with who we are. The pressure is still felt—to participate, to be included, to take part in something much of our town does—but we know we feel much more peace by choosing to do what is consistent with who we are rather than doing what others think or would like us to do.
I am not giving you a blanket excuse to justify everything that ‘feels natural,’ but I am saying that in the restless turmoil living out of sync creates you find a significant clue about the state of your personal integrity. Recognize and analyze this response to see how much of it is coming from trying to please people at the expense of your integrity, and authenticity for that matter as well.
4. See yourself as God sees you—A cheerful giver
I used to think that following God meant serving Him in the sense of ‘using yourself up caring for everyone in order to win his approval and blessing.’ I know I’m not the only one who has thought or lived life this way…the ‘narrow path’ is lined with burned out people wondering why all their work didn’t bring the results they had expected.
It can’t be denied that following Jesus has a lot of service components to it. We are often exhorted within the Bible’s pages to love, give, support, put others first, be kind and patient—all of which can give us the skewed perspective that God is only about serving and we earn His favor by it. However that is only a part of the picture. As I mentioned last week the Bible also shows us there are boundaries around us and our capacity for selfless service, the issue is we tend to ignore them as much as possible.
First, we were given the boundary of rest. We need it physically, emotionally, mentally and psychologically. There is no denying our need for this critical element but how many sicknesses are prevalent nowadays simply because people refuse to heed this boundary? We have the boundary of twenty-four hours in day of which 7 or so hours should be spent sleeping.
Then we are also given the boundary of Sabbath, one day in seven that should be spent resting. I could spend a lot of time telling you more about this day, although Tamar would be better suited to the details. I will simply summarize by saying God thought Sabbath important enough to make it one of the big ten. Sabbath is as much about God knowing we need rest, community, relationships and the time to notice the small blessings in life, as it is about giving us the space to remember Him in worship. (Stay tuned I am sure we will see this topic come up again in a future series!)
Second, God provided us a boundary for knowing if we are giving more than we have the capacity for. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Each person should give what they have decided in heart to give…not under compulsion, obligation or guilt. Not because of wanting the earn approval, reward or popularity. The perfect test for checking your people pleasing is there in black and white, yet so often missed. If you are making choices or doing too many things based on pleasing people you will feel resentment build, this is a cue for you to examine the ‘why’ of your giving.
We often hear this verse spoken about in terms of money or tithing to the church, however it applies as much to time and talents as it does to your financial resources. If you keep getting asked to do more and more or keep trying to make decisions and choices based on other people’s opinion, you will know when you’ve hit the boundary by how cheerful you are about it.
We weren’t created to please people and trying to do so runs us ragged. We were created to please God—who is unchanging. This does involve growing to become more loving, giving, and kind, however God takes the long view of our lives. He doesn’t come at us with the expectation that we master all of this at once or even in the same way. I am learning to be more loving but how it shows itself and plays out in my life may look very different than it does in yours.
Pleasing people is a strong foe that requires developing specific skills to overcome. Understand the needs you are trying to fill by pleasing people, learn to establish healthy boundaries in your life, pay attention to the test God gave you to know when you are pushing past those boundaries, and in practicing all of these you will find the peace that comes from living with personal integrity.
Where does your outside behavior not match up with your inside self? What choices do you need to make in order to bring more consistency to your inside and outside self?
What areas in your life are you not a “cheerful giver”? Who do you think you are pleasing by continuing to give in these areas?