You Can’t Please Everyone

It’s seldom easy to get everybody to agree on the truth of a given statement. And yet, it seems the notion, ‘You Can’t Please Everyone’ is universally held.

We all get that disappointing others is inevitable, but most of us still bend over backwards in our attempts to please those around us. With the Christmas season approaching, the pressure to satisfy those closest to us will be acute. 

This past Sunday at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well, I sought to help us recognize our people-pleasing tendencies and to appropriately apply those tendencies.

Are you a people-pleaser? I don’t think it is a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ thing. We are people-pleasers to a degree.

Here are some people pleasing characteristics:

  • 1) You are governed by fear of disappointing others
  • 2) You find it difficult to express what you want / prefer
  • 3) You find it difficult to say ‘no’, and tend to over commit

On a people-pleasing scale of 1 (I don’t give a rip) to 10 (I will try to cater to your every whim, all of the time), where are you? 

Did you know that the Bible has much to say on this subject? You likely won’t be surprised to hear that prioritizing the needs of others is a good thing. One of the chief commandments is “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). For some of us, that commandment challenges us to love beyond ourselves more than what we’re naturally inclined to. For others, that commandment appropriately restrains us and keeps us from loving our neighbour to our own detriment.

There is another important principle outlined for us in Scripture on this subject. Whether we score low on the people-pleasing scale, or whether we are prone to please everyone, all of the time, this principle applies to every follower of Jesus: Pleasing God must be our first priority.

The apostle Paul, who cared deeply and sacrificially for many Christian communities, was careful to explain that God, and not the people, was his chief concern (see Galatians 1:10 and 1Thessalonians 2:4).

For me, this principle is a massive source of relief. When I pursue this principle I find that my people-pleasing tendencies find their proper place, and my life finds a meaningful balance.

Conversely, when I measure myself by the delight or displeasure of others, I find myself trapped on an emotional rollar coaster ride. If you score high in people-pleasing, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re doing well so long as those around you are doing well. Disappointing another crushes you.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Nor do we have to altogether ignore the needs of those we regularly engage.

I encourage you to have a listen below. We can’t please everyone. But we can please the One who can return our life to its proper balance. I want that. How about you?  

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