Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. — GALATIANS 1:10 (NLT)
I can understand Paul’s argument here. I can see where he was coming from. People have accused him of being a people pleaser and he is steadfastly denying it. Paul was no people pleaser, he had truly been changed by Christ and given a message and a mission.
I, on the other hand, was that guy. There was a day and a time when I was that people pleaser. I wanted to please my parents (especially my dad). I wanted to please my coaches. I wanted to please and wanted the approval of my teachers, my bosses, my mentors, my pastors. I wanted the approval of my peers and of people that I admired and respected, whether they knew me or not.
I was the guy that Paul was arguing that he was not.
Now, not everything I did was about pleasing people or gaining their approval. However, as much as I tried to squelch it or keep that desire down, it was still there in the back of my mind, in my heart of hearts. I enjoyed being out front and enjoyed the approval of man. Especially of those older and wiser than me (coaches, bosses, pastors, etc.)
Even when I got saved, I had to learn (and am still learning) that I cannot gain or earn God’s approval. That Salvation was not something that I had to earn and earn on a daily basis. That I could not and did not need to try to work my way into heaven.
Now, even today, I am still somewhat of a people pleaser. I don’t want to let anyone down. I want to make everyone happy and have everyone like me. But I’m beginning to realize that that is not as important as I once thought it was.
Now, more than I have before, I am beginning to focus my efforts more and more on glorifying God and less and less on me. Not that it has always been about me. But, like I said, I enjoyed the spotlight, the limelight. So, if some of that light was shown on me too, I was good with that.
I wanted to please you and gain your approval... and later in life, doing all that while striving to glorify God too.
But not Paul, Paul’s sole ambition was to glorify God through bringing the message of the salvation of Christ to the world around him. He didn’t want the glory or anyone’s approval or acceptance, except that of Jesus Himself. He strived to please God through his obedience to Him and His mission.
I long to be like Paul in that regard… a God Pleaser.
Think and Pray
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked, but when that desire for approval determines whether we act or speak in line with God’s will, it becomes an idol.
Father, let me find my affirmation and contentment only in You. Give me the courage I need in this day to be Your representative in every situation. Amen.
Marty Stubblefield is a husband, father, businessperson, youth coach, former college basketball player, and the Executive Vice-President of CBMC-USA. Having spent 34+ years in Banking, Bank Administration and State Government across the Southeast, he brings a different view of faith, life, and the struggles we face in the marketplace and our day-to-day lives. He has been married to Amy for 27 years, has three daughters, a son-in-law, grandson, and two Labradoodles. He blogs weekly at oldlazydog.com.