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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I'm the Grand Wizard of Making Everyone Happy at Christmas Time



I mentioned in my last post that I'd continue the discussion of perfectionism. So now let's look at one of the results of perfectionism which is People Pleasing. I confess! I’m a People Pleaser! I’m motivated to please others for a variety of reasons and one main one is thinking I should never say “no.” This can especially impact me at the holidays when I think I'm the Grand Wizard of Making Everyone Happy at Christmas time. Tweet that!

Over the years I've examined my heart a lot about why I feel this way. At this Christmastime when perfectionism can influence us through wanting to please others, let's see what might be going on inside of us.
  1. What will they think of me if I’m not the Super Woman who can say “yes” to everything?
  2. If I don’t say “yes,” then I’ll miss out on the fun!
  3. If I don’t say “yes,” the opportunity won’t get done to my standards!
  4. If I don’t say “yes,” they might not ask me the next time.
5.  (Put in your own reasoning).

People Pleasing is all about depending upon the opinions of others for our approval, rather than God. (Tweet that!) We fear making other people unhappy with us or think poorly of us. So we strive to do everything we can to appease other people and promote ourselves as important, valuable, or whatever vow we've made to promote or protect ourselves.

There are many examples of People Pleasing in the Bible. The most known one may be when King Saul succumbed to this Strategy. His reaction is featured in 1 Samuel 13:8-14. Remember the story? 

Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel to come so that the burnt offering could be given. But Saul saw the people scattering and he panicked. What did Saul fear that said about him? So Saul offered the sacrifice anyway. When Samuel showed up at the last minute, Saul knew he was in big trouble. Samuel asked, “What have you done?”

What was Saul’s reasoning? “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 

Samuel saw the folly of Saul’s reasoning and rebuked him. “…now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 

Saul defends himself primarily giving the reason that the people were scattering. Could it be that he felt personally rejected by the people? Maybe them leaving meant they lacked confidence in him. As People Pleasers, that’s not what we want to hear, see, or feel. We need to feel the approval and support of others.

What was God looking for? A man after God's own heart, but Saul's heart was all about himself and the approval of others.

Where can we all get the courage to choose God’s approval and not depend upon people's opinions?

Lay hold of God's promise, “What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6). God is the only one who will love us perfectly. Only he can provide unconditional love and approval because of the  “robe of righteousness” we wear because of Jesus' redemptive death.
Know your position in Christ. This is a common theme of mine because it's so important, especially during the pressure and stress of a busy holiday season. Your performance and the opinions of others does not affect who God sees you in Christ. "In Christ" you are perfect, holy, righteous, forgiven, cleansed, redeemed, and many other things. You might want to study Ephesians 1 and make a list of all the wonderful things you "are" in Christ. Knowing God's opinion of you never changes will enable you to be diminish being the Grand Wizard of Making Everyone Happy at Christmas Time. 

Know you are not responsible for the choices of others. (Tweet that!) People Pleasers are convinced they can control another's happiness with their own behavior. But truth is, a person's happiness, joy, or contentment is their own choice. Even if I treat someone horribly, they can choose to look to God to provide what they need. If you don't provide the perfect gift for someone and they are disappointed, their disappointment is their choice.

Which of those three ideas are most important and meaningful to you? If you have a moment to spare in your Christmas preparations, give me and my readers a comment. We would love to hear from you.

Guess how I'm going to practice diminishing my perfectionism and my stress? I'm going to risk disappointing you by declaring that I'm pausing from posting on my blog until after Christmas--maybe even the New Year. Thanks for understanding. Have a blessed Christmas!

By the way, if you'd like to explore these kinds of ideas further, the book Larry and I have written will help you. It's called Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today. We offer the tools for identifying “why I do what I do.” And then having a heart change so that you can trust God more. We’ve seen these tools strengthen us for increased obedience and joy. We hope you’ll join us in the quest for seeking God’s approval as our “audience of one.”

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