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I ran into a former lecturer of mine a few days back and I remembered how much I stressed myself during my last semester to please him. He was a Senior lecturer with a lot of clout and everyone, including me, wanted to be in his good books.
I am very good at record keeping and typing and so I made it to being one of his favorite assistants. Then he became demanding. Ahhh. I was almost a secretary.
He would say: “young lady, read this.” Or “young lady, type that.” Or “young lady go and deliver these and those.”
I would type lecture notes, speeches, proposals and go on errands. At a point my academic work started suffering and then my spiritual life crashed. I was too tired to go for Bible studies or fellowship.
The breaking point was when I had to call him to inform him that I would be late for my daily assignment. I didn’t have enough air time on my phone and so I used roommate’s. He answered and I told him Miss Ononye was on the line. And he went:
“Who? From where?”
I repeated my name again in full “Dumebi Ononye”. He still couldn’t place my name until I said “The young lady that types for you, Sir.”
He says ‘Ohhhhhhhh, young lady is that your name? I had no idea…”
I almost wept. I mean, I had displeased and stressed myself on top this guy’s matter for months and he didn’t even know my name. To him, I was just another ‘young lady’. That did it. I never resumed ‘work’ after that. I faced my studies squarely and worked on my spiritual life and graduated with excellent grades. Praise God.
It is human nature to want to please other people. Some have a bad case of it though. We want to be accepted and loved by all. Sadly, we cannot please two masters. You can love people but you can’t go all out to please them all. Of course this does not mean that we go out of our way to displease people or be offensive to them. The point is to be true to God and the gospel even if it means upsetting people. Galatians 1:10 says it all.
Charles Spurgeon said “This shall be an infallible to you concerning anyone’s ministry: if it man praising and man-honouring, it is not of God.”
I have come to realize that I cannot constantly worry about what others think of me and that an overwhelming need to please others is a form of slavery. I should be serving and loving God to the best of my ability. People may cast judgment on me, but their judgment doesn’t really matter. HIS DOES!
Ethel Barret once wrote- we should worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do. Pleasing people just frustrates you somehow. What pleased people last month will infuriate them today. Imagine how enslaving it is to try and please people-especially people who don’t often think of you.
When we decide to please the Lord rather than people, God blesses us in the sight of people. Proverbs 16:7 tells us that when the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, He causes their enemies to make peace with them. If we realized how often Jesus thinks of us, we would be absorbed with thinking of Him.
When pleasing man means displeasing God, it’s an unqualified evil and should have no place in the Christian’s heart.