What Does the Bible Say About People Pleasing?

People pleasing is a huge problem, even among Christ-followers.

So many people spend so much time trying to keep everyone happy, that they remain blind to the effect this has on their hearts.  People pleasing ultimately creates an idol of people’s approval of yourself.  Over time, believers train their hearts to think that their greatest need is not our savior but people’s approval.

How do I know if this is an issue for me?

Here are a few diagnostic questions to see if this is an issue for you:

  • Do you become a different person around certain groups of people?
  • Do you find yourself gravitating to people who tell you want you want to hear?
  • Do you do things for what you can get from people?
  • Does your mood change dramatically based on what people say about you?
  • Do you find it hard to let go of hurtful things others have said to you?

What was Jesus’ response to people pleasing?

John 2:23-25

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Jesus here is described as not entrusting himself to people because he knows what’s in people.  So, what is it that Jesus knew about people?  And, given this knowledge, how should we view and respond to people?

What is in man?

Every human being is broken and blind.  Broken because though God made us to worship Him, every human being commits plagiarism by worshipping ourselves and robbing God he worship he is due (Romans 1:18-32).  It’s bad enough that we are broken, but we are also blind to our brokenness.  This is why the Bible describes every human being entering the world in a domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13-14).  The result is that man ends up praising what God rejects and rejecting what God praises.  For an example of this, see the unfortunate story of the Atlanta Fire Chief who was fired for his convictions about marriage- http://www.bpnews.net/44000/atlanta-fire-chief-fired-over-profamily-book.

Our Response

Jesus knew that man is broken and blind and because of this, John tells us He did not entrust Himself to them.  This means that Christ didn’t look to people to validate his ministry.  It also means that Jesus didn’t place his hope in people being the determinative factor for the future growth in His ministry.   Ultimately, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father- and that was enough.

For you and me, we too must look at people the way Jesus did.  Our hope is not in getting the right person to like me or to look my way for a promotion, but entrusting ourselves to God.  This means my hope and joy rests in serving my Savior.  After all, he’s the one who knows all things, even what’s in the heart of man.