By Jesse Jost
I love to please other people. I thrive on affirmation and will bend over backward to gain approval. And I wrestle with whether this is a positive or negative trait. Wanting to please other people is a sign of love, is it not? But when I honestly look deeper into my motives, the picture is more murky.
Why do I want to please people? Am I really just putting their desires ahead of my own? Or are there more sinister psychological forces motivating me? Am I trying to find my worth in other people’s approval? Do I have a self-centered need to be admired? Am I looking for acceptance into a group to validate my identity? Maybe my driving force in wanting to please others is not love, but pride and insecurity.
The different motivations of love or desire to please may not change my outward actions, but will have a huge effect on my soul and emotional well-being.
An unhealthy dependence on the approval or acceptance of others can become an idol that drags us around, filling our days with activities we are not called to or created for.
I think we were made with a desire to find our identity in something larger than our self. God wants us to find our sense of worth and purpose in Him and in His body, the church, doing the good works that He created for us to walk in. (Eph 2:10) If our identity is not in Christ and fulfilling our calling from Him, we will seek to find this identity and purpose in man-made social groups or organizations.
I was homeschooled growing up and felt like an outsider of the larger local community, even overhearing other kids being mocked for wanting to play with my siblings and me. Now, as an adult, I hunger for community acceptance, wanting to meet the community’s expectations for what is required to be a recognized insider – whether it be involvement in sports, or putting our kids in the school system. Continue reading…