Does this blog make you happy? I am so worried someone might not like it. I mean, what if I offend someone or say something wrong? Maybe I should just stop writing? Do the people that read it think I am weird or trying to be too smart? Oh, the pressure s suffoctating. What do I do?

There is a universal struggle for people to want to please others, but it looms large in Christianity. I think we all struggle with the desire to please people, some more than others, but it is especially apparent within the church.  I wish I could say I have never made decisions based on what other people might think, but alas, I have. In fact, this past Sunday was the closing of a weekend for the youth in our church, which meant I could go causal and wear a T-shirt. I thought about throwing on flip-flops and some holey (not to be confused with “Holy”) jeans, but thought better of it, wondering, “Will people be weird if I wear holy…I mean holey jeans to church?”

So is it wrong to want to please others? Why do we try and make other people happy in the first place? Does it matter what other people think of us?

I think it is healthy to want to see other people be happy. Otherwise you are the cantankerous creep that no one wants to be around. Nobody wants to be the guy that people hide from in the grocery store. But it is important for us to remember that we cannot make other people happy. We can do things that bring other people pleasure, but we cannot make them happy. Happiness is a choice that we choose. There are some people that we can jump through flaming hoops for and they will never be happy. Why? Because they are choosing to be unhappy, and it has nothing to do with who we are or what we do.

Also, it becomes a problem when trying to please others becomes exhausting or debilitating for us. I have seen people that spend all their time trying to please everyone in their life. Give it up. It can’t be done. Trying to keep everyone happy is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree.

So why do we expunge so much energy at times trying to make other people happy? I think the main reason is because we want to be liked and not judged or looked down on. The truth is, some people will like us and others will not regardless of what we do. This is just how it is. Everyone has their critics.

It definitely matters what other people think of us, which is why we should live with integrity, honesty, and transparency. You see, often people pleasing involves doing something that isn’t real to make other people happy. We do things that are not consistent with our character or how we act in our private lives to please other people. Another word for this is hypocrisy. Wouldn’t it just be better to be real with other people than to try and please them with dishonesty? The people I admire the most are those that are consistent across their private lives and public lives, from one friendship to another, and within church and outside of church.

But the biggest problem with living our lives for the concern of others is that it steals from us. It robs us from focusing on the biggest thing in our lives that matters, pleasing God.  In Galatians 1:10 the Apostle Paul drives this point home. He says, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” I find that when I am worried about pleasing other people there is little time for me to worry about what pleases God.

If we feel we are truly in the center of where God would have us then it really matters little what other people think. If we are living lives of integrity then that will eventually become evident when people examine our image. If we are living with transparency then people can make an honest evaluation of whether or not that would like to spend time around us.

We can’t make everyone happy. So why exhaust ourselves trying? As Aristotle said, “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Let’s enjoy the lives that God has given us. Let’s live in freedom. Let’s focus on pleasing the One that matters. I think if we do, everything else will line out.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

What are some ways we try to please people? Let’s talk about it!