Real People

I was talking with Anna this morning about several things, part of which was regarding attitudes and relationships among God’s people. In the midst of that discussion, she shared a thought that she hoped others would realize:

“Congratulations, you just learned that the church is full of real people. Welcome aboard!”

God’s family is made up of broken people who have come to the Great Physician for healing. We are scattered and wandering sheep that have returned to the Great Shepherd of our Souls. We are lost souls who need a Savior.

Keeping that in mind, when we come to worship with God’s people, what are you and I expecting to find? Are we expecting everyone to throw a parade for us, falling at our feet with adoration because we walked into the building? Are we expecting everyone to have a smile and not have a care in the world? Is our assumption that anytime someone frowns, that he or she is upset with you personally?

Listen, real people who are really broken come into the assembly and that may really be showing on their face and coming out in their speech. Real people are sinners in need of grace from God and from you. Real people have bad days and are heavy-hearted. Real people are not always on their “A” Game – It may be a “Y” or “Z” Game that day.

Yes, there certainly are times that God’s people have some areas where we need to improve. We need to be reminded to be more friendly and inclusive. Sometimes cliques do form in the church, and people are left to feel like outsiders. It really does happen.

But I have also seen that every kindness in the world is shown to someone, and he or she still isn’t satisfied, which reveals his or her own spiritual deficiencies. If I am looking to be offended by my fellow Christians, then I will find something to be upset about. If I want to walk around with a chip on my shoulder, then Satan will keep me readily supplied with a Sam’s club-sized portion of chips.

Consider that it may be our assumptions, mindset and perspective that is off. The brethren may be just fine, but our attitude toward them is what is out of line. Stop to think about it, do some soul searching and praying about it. Contemplate how much you have invested into the brethren, rather than what you have not received.

“Congratulations, you just learned that the church is full of real people. Welcome aboard!”

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?

Paul, an apostle–not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead–(Galatians 1:1).

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:10-12).

We just finished a gospel meeting with my great friend, Jason Salyers. He preached from the book of Galatians. He drew our attention to the theme that “the gospel is not from men.” There were men in that Galatian region who were trying to pervert and twist the gospel. At the same time those very men were aggressively oppressing and persecuting those who stood for the gospel. Both Paul and those who stood for the gospel could have made life a lot easier for themselves if they would have just caved in and went along with those false teachers. As Jason pointed out, even the false teachers were teaching these things because they wanted to avoid persecution (6:12).

Here are some things about Paul in the book of Galatians to remember when it comes to being a people-pleaser versus a servant of Christ.

  • Paul understood his relationship and position with Christ did not come from men, but through Christ (1:1).
  • He also knew that seeking the approval of men was the same as turning his back on Christ (1:10-12). It isn’t that he didn’t try to accommodate the consciences of others and become all things to all men (1 Cor. 9), but his focus was first on pleasing Christ. He could do nothing for men that would not please Jesus.
  • You can’t yield when it comes to the truth of the gospel, not even for a moment (2:5).
  • Don’t try like Peter did to play both sides of the fence and make everyone happy (2:11-19). That’s just being a hypocrite, and it will have a strong influence to lead the faithful astray (2:13).
  • Understand that those who are “influential” added nothing to Paul. God shows no partiality and Paul didn’t either (2:6). Just because that person is a big time somebody doesn’t mean you cower and cave. God is not impressed by status, nor should we be.
  • Know that when you stand for truth, friends may become enemies (4:16).
  • Think about whether you are trying to make a “good showing in the flesh” or trying to please Christ (6:12).
  • Paul did not seek to please men, because he understood that being crucified with Christ meant that the world had been crucified to him as well (6:14).

There are several other verses from Galatians that tie in to this point, but this is enough for today to think about.

Thanks again, Jason, for the lessons.

I Dwell Among My Own People

And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’ ” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.” (2 Kings 4:13)

Today’s thought comes from a statement made by the Shunammite woman. We are studying 2 Kings 4-5 in our Bible class, and yesterday we considered the example of this wonderful woman and how she served God. This woman was a “notable” woman (2 Kings 4:8) who took the initiative to provide food for Elisha whenever he passed by that way. She took it a step further and worked with her husband to make an addition to their house to provide a furnished apartment for Elisha whenever he traveled through the area (2 Kings 4:9-10). What a wonderful example of godly people using their resources and energy to serve God and His people!

What is even more remarkable than that to me is how she responded when Elisha asked her what he could do for her. How did the Shunammite woman respond?

I dwell among my own people,” she replied.

That is a statement of contentment. It is a sentence that comes from a person who is at peace with God and others. She, like any other person, had desires and wishes; you can see later in chapter 4 that one big one was that she wanted a baby. But she did not serve God and do things for Elisha so that she could have something in return. She served because she truly was grateful for her blessings and position in life, and she wanted to share that with someone. She didn’t want praise and attention for it. There was not clamoring for kickback and rewards. The Shunammite woman just served.

Do you and I “dwell among our own people”? Are we serving God and others with the same heart and motives as this lovely Shunammite lady?

Something to think about today.

Problems with People Pleasing Part 4

Sometimes people pleasers feel for whatever reason that they have to get involved in every situation. Every time someone asks them to do something, they do it. Whenever they are asked to get involved, the people pleasers dive in thinking it is their duty to do so.

Even Jesus at times said, “No.”

Did Jesus jump into to solve every problem that people wanted him to address? No. Here is the first example:

Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:13-15).

What was the real problem in this relationship between the man and his brother, according to Jesus? Greed…plain and simple. Jesus had the wisdom to know that if He jumped in this family drama and tried to be the referee, the real problem would never be solved. I believe this is a great lesson for us, men. It is not that we go around and never get involved in other’s disputes, but we must develop the wisdom with lots of prayer to know when it would be best for us not to get involved.

Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears (Proverbs 26:17).

Here is a second example of Jesus having to say, “No.”

And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1:36-38).

Jesus had the power to heal everyone’s sicknesses and diseases, and the crowds knew it. They were flocking to Him – everyone was looking for Him. Even Simon Peter was searching for Him to get the crowds to Him. That makes sense, doesn’t it? However, Jesus had to keep His main mission and purpose in mind. He came to preach the gospel and save people from their sins. Jesus did not come to end all human suffering while He was here on earth.

Here is the most compassionate and selfless Man in history, and He said, “No.” Jesus went on to the other cities to preach, which means that there were people left behind who did not get healed of their sicknesses and diseases. That might be difficult for some to grasp, but that is what Jesus had to do because His main mission was to preach and save souls.

We must remember this as well. There is a time that we must learn to say, “No” to some things so that we can say “Yes” to the purpose and mission to which God has called us. Even the apostles did this exact thing in Jerusalem when they did not get directly involved in caring for the widows, but delegated that task to the seven men appointed for it (Acts 6:1-7). They could not leave their mission and purpose to take care of something that another person should be doing, because in doing so, their own work would not get accomplished.

I encourage you to meditate upon this and pray for wisdom. Again, it is not that we seek to avoid getting involved…that is not the heart of Jesus. But even Jesus and the apostles at times had to set boundaries.

Problems with People Pleasing Part 3

The last two Tuesdays, we considered problems with people-pleasing (Part 1 and Part 2). Today we will look at the people-pleaser and his marriage.

Problems with People Pleasing Part 3

I have to write from the outset that this is not an article encouraging you to dismiss your wife’s feelings, opinions, expectations, ideas, dreams, etc. It is a Biblical concept and command to honor and seek to please your wife. Please consider these verses (1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 7:3-4,33; Ephesians 5:28; Ecclesiastes 9:9; Proverbs 5:18). God wants us to “make mamma happy.”

  1. God comes first (Acts 5:29). Abram and Adam listened to their wives instead of trusting God (Genesis 3:17; 16:2). If pleasing your wife means violating God’s word and doing things He would not accept, then that’s going too far.
  2. Christ’s approval is what matters first. If Christ approves of you, but your wife does not, then whose approval is weightier? You are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10).
  3. Consider your motives. I will just refer you back to the previous two articles for this point.
A people-pleaser who drains himself for his wife.

Sometimes a people-pleasing kind of personality is joined in marriage with a controlling, perfectionist spouse. That becomes a toxic and painful relationship. The controlling, perfectionist spouse is addicted to control. Everything must be flawless and in order. He or she demands perfection, and that is when acceptance and approval comes. The spouse is only given full affection and “grace” when he or she does everything “right.”

In comes the spouse who craves acceptance and approval. This people-pleaser will wear himself or herself out and go completely bankrupt (financially, spiritually, morally, emotionally) in order to gain the acceptance of the spouse. Resentment, bitterness and anger build within all while the people-pleaser “serves with a smile.” That is not healthy.

A people-pleaser who kills his marriage to please others.

That man who gave everything to win his bride may then move on to pleasing everyone else around him. His wife and kids may get neglected because he is going around trying to make everyone else happy. Is he truly being a servant of Christ or is he just trying to make everyone like him? We need to ask ourselves these questions. If I am seeking to solve everyone’s problems but end up neglecting my wife and children’s needs then that is a red flag. I may be a people-pleaser, not a sacrificial servant of Christ.

Another way this people-pleaser may kill his marriage is by letting friends and family exert an unhealthy amount of influence in his relationship. Mom, dad, friends and family are exerting too much pressure and control from the outside and it is creating a serious strain on his relationship with his wife. Who is he going to please? It is like the comedy sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The folks just won’t leave. Raymond just needed to put his foot down and stand up for his marriage and his wife, but he kept caving in to mommy and daddy.

Next Tuesday, we are going to continue this concept as we consider:

Setting healthy boundaries and expectations.

Problems with People Pleasing Part 2

Last Tuesday’s article was about Problems with People Pleasing. Today we pick up where we left off with this question:

What is the difference between being a people-pleaser and being a sacrificial servant of Christ?

First of all, on the outside, those two people may look exactly the same. Their actions and behavior might appear identical. They both wear themselves out for others. Think of the apostle Paul, he was truly a sacrificial servant of Christ, not a people-pleaser. He did, however, wear himself out for others.

I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? (2 Corinthians 12:15)

Paul was not a people-pleaser, but because he loved Jesus Christ, he was  a sacrificial servant for others. There is a profound difference.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Furthermore, being a people pleaser is ultimately all about you.

You don’t want conflict. You don’t want negative emotions. When your motivation is about people liking you and not being disappointed in you, the focus is you. Refusing to say “No” is about you. Maintaining that illusion of harmony is self-centered, not God-centered. Being a people-pleaser is about craving acceptance and approval from people, not about being secure in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43)

What we get down to is motive and heart.

  • Why am I doing _______ or committing to __________?
  • Why am I sacrificing time, energy, and resources for this?
  • Am I seeking people’s approval or God’s approval?
  • Am I serving out of guilt, doing “penance” for my past mistakes? Or am I serving others out of a gratefulness to God?
  • Why am I uncomfortable with others’ negative emotions around me?

Think about it. Are you “complete in Him,” (Colossians 2:9-10), or are you complete in having people like you?

We will discuss this more next Tuesday and the implications it has for marriage.

Problems with People Pleasing

What is a people pleaser? What are the problems with people pleasing?

You seek to take away any conflict, any negative emotion, or any discomfort of those around you.  Life for you consists of exhausting yourself to make everyone around you happy. Serve any need. Anytime someone asks you to do anything, you say “Yes.” The thought of saying “No” brings such stress and anxiety because you do not want to disappoint people or hurt their feelings. That might translate to people not liking you…perish the thought! They will not accept you or approve of you, and that is the last thing in the world you want. You would rather be bankrupt and bedridden as a result of sacrificing yourself than to entertain the thought of saying “No” to those around you.

If those words define you, then my friend, you are a people pleaser.

For some, this isn’t a problem, but for others it is like a disease or an addiction. It brings great damage to relationships. A people-pleasing husband will seek to avoid conflict and uncomfortable conversations with his wife. He will just keep serving and enabling her hurtful behavior. Any negative emotion she has, he tries to deal with quickly to eliminate it. What results is an illusion of harmony, not intimacy. A people-pleasing father will try to be his kid’s best friend and buddy, because he wants to avoid any negative emotions. He wants his children to like him, but it results in them not respecting him.

The people pleaser will be the person that everyone says is a great guy and has a servant’s heart. Inside, however, he is falling apart. His bitterness and resentment is growing because he feels like others constantly take advantage of him. He smiles on the outside and is the dutiful soldier to give of himself, but is his heart really in it?

I am going to write more about this next Tuesday, men, but for now I want you to meditate on a question:

What is the difference between being a people-pleaser and being a sacrificial servant of Christ?