Stories & Blog

How I Stopped Being a People Pleaser So I Could Please God

Connie Neckers | February 10, 2021

When I was younger, I found that I could quite effortlessly flit from one group of people to the next without feeling terribly awkward.

I told myself that it was because I was outgoing, I was friendly, I considered myself loving and accepting of people and I really wasn't all that judgmental or rigid. I was wrong!

Reality hit, just about the time that I turned 30. Our family had recently moved to the Cincinnati area and quite a few of the ladies on our street got together once a month to play Bunco, a simple dice game that allows for a lot of chatting—and very little concentration!

One night I joined the ladies and one of the gals at my table started talking about the president-elect, George H. W. Bush. She and her husband were very active in the Republican party; they had worked on his campaign and were looking forward to traveling to Washington for his inauguration and meeting Barbara Bush again. 

This gal then went on to ask me if I liked Barbara Bush, to which I responded, “oh yes.” Then she asked me why. Hum...I was stumped, why did I like her? All I could think of was that she reminded me of my Gramma, who also was pleasantly plump, had pretty white hair and often wore chunky beads around her neck.

Despite the fact that Barbara had been a very public figure since her husband had served for the previous 8 years as Vice President, I didn't know anything about her, her opinions, or her projects to help our country. I was busted and I was embarrassed. I couldn't fake my way out of this one! 

Later, as I reflected upon this experience, I realized that I was living my life as Connie the Chameleon. The reason that I could fit in so easily with others is because I was an imposter—a poser; I was a people pleaser who pretended to go along with the crowd in order to fit in, rarely expressing my own opinions. Just like a Chameleon, my colors changed to fit the surroundings. 

Questioning what I stood for
It wasn't too long after this experience that I really started to question the meaning of life and who God was to me. I started reading books about notable people who had the courage of their convictions; people like Desmond Tutu, Viktor Frankl, and Corrie ten Boom.

I was inspired and I wanted to be like these people and stand up for justice, for the underdog, to not cave when the pressure got too great! I didn't want to be a people pleaser anymore! 

Paul addressed this issue in Galatians 1:10. He was still trying to establish his authority as an Apostle of Christ after his years spent as a Pharisee where he was bent on destroying the followers of Jesus. He had been accused of preaching a message of grace just so he could gain a following. 

Paul responds by saying this: "Do you think I am trying to make people accept me? No! God is the One I am trying to please. Am I trying to please men? If I wanted to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

That kind of hits you between the eyes doesn't it? If you want to please men, you can't be a servant of Christ. 

Living Authentically
I am happy to report that through the years God has been ferreting out my people-pleasing tendencies and giving me opportunities to respond to others in a truthful, authentic manner. I am grateful that I did not have to become wildly proficient at this before he allowed me to start serving him! It took quite a while for me to really know myself well enough to form strong opinions and it turns out that underneath all the pretense, I was really quite shy.

As we move into this new year I would like to encourage you to be you—the authentic you that God made you to be. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. He isn't looking for perfection, he knows that he has plenty of time to refine any flaws!

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