One of the great benefits of being a Christian in our time is the access to the multitude of leaders we have. I think of 25 years ago when the Christian leaders were either authors, preachers on TV/radio or traveling evangelists–none of which you had of a glimpse into their everyday life nor ability to address personally. Today, we have literally thousands of Christian leaders writing for us on the Internet with only a tweet separating us.
Just a few searches and you can have your pick of preachers, authors, bloggers or speakers from which to learn. I know I am constantly listening and learning from many Christian bloggers. However, I’ve found an insidious byproduct that affected me greatly and I’m guessing many others too.
There is one particular blogger I followed and gained great respect for. I’m not sharing her name because it’s inconsequential to this story. This woman writes well, loves the Lord, is a wonderful mother and cares well for the downtrodden. I paid very close attention to her words and actions as I felt like she was a wonderful leader among all these many voices we have available.
I soon found, though, that her opinion, or at least what I guessed her opinion to be, was haunting my every move. I’d decide to buy something at the store and I’d think but wouldn’t she think I’m wasting my money? I would write something and think wouldn’t she think I’m wasting my words? I’d be watching TV and think wouldn’t she think I’m wasting my time?
I realized she had become an idol to me. Not just someone I could respect, but someone whose opinion was guiding my very life.
The thing is, she’d feel TERRIBLE if she knew this was the case.
It got to a point that I became resentful of her because of all the guilt. Why did she hate me so much and why was she trying to run my life??
Clearly things were spiraling out of control. She didn’t hate me and she certainly wasn’t trying to run my life.
Since this woman had no clue what was going on, I knew the problem probably was with me. I took this to the Lord and asked him to hash it out with me.
After some extensive journaling/praying, the Lord brought Galatians 1:10 to my mind:
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Yes, of course. My people-pleasing was rearing it’s ugly head again. At my core, I was fearful that my decisions would cause this person, who I respected so much, to judge me and decide they didn’t like me. That would devastate me.
This verse addresses this deep desire to win another’s approval. People-pleasing leads us to be servants of the people we’re trying to please. People-pleasing, then, is a form of bondage. Instead of looking to Christ and seeing what would make HIM happy, we think of the other person and do what we think they’d want us to.
If we’re not letting the Holy Spirit guide us, then we are not a servants of Christ because we’re not following His order. We have to do what HE tells us to do, not what someone’s supposed opinion says.
I had to repent of my idolatry and ask God to cut out that root of fear and give me a new desire to please Him only. In fact, I rewrote that verse with the person’s name in place:
Am I now trying to win the approval of [her name]? Or am I try to please [her name]? If were still trying to please [her name], I would not be a servant of Christ.
That makes it pretty personal, doesn’t it? And I am sure I do this with more than just one person.
I’ve committed to memorizing and repeating this verse when my mind goes back to wondering what she would think and to instead ask God what his opinion is of the situation. She might indeed have these negative thoughts towards me, but I have to let the Holy Spirit be my guide as well as hers.
Even just hours after my time with the Lord, I could feel those ties to her cutting loose. I found myself not caring so much about what she thought and felt great peace and a healthy respect towards her again.
Please, if you find you’re caring more about a person’s opinion than God’s, talk to God about it! He will show you what needs to happen to free you.
Do you find yourself struggling with pleasing people instead of God?