Eric Hoke from Relevant Magazine claims to have a problem. “I am a people-pleaser,” he admits. And this is an issue, he writes, because Jesus didn’t focus his ministry on being nice; his message was about so much more than that.
“[F]or many of us, we have wrongly believed that being ‘nice’ is akin to being ‘godly.’ We don’t want to ruffle feathers, we don’t want to bend the rules, we don’t want to speak honestly and we don’t want to say no. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we’re too nice, hiding under the guise of our faith and performing duties that suck the life out of us all because we somehow think this is how God would want us to live.
Yet by examining the life of Jesus, the Son of God, we see that sometimes Jesus did things that were not ‘nice’ yet fulfilled God’s purpose, a much higher calling than people pleasing will ever be.”
It’s nearly impossible to get real, meaningful work done if you’re hesitant to leave “nice” behind sometimes, he admits.
“So how does a leader with nice-guy-itus lead effectively? I suggest a mixture of knowledge and action. First, know your core values. Next, know your organization’s values. Third, deal with conflicting values. Finally, give appropriate feedback.”
Dan Miller also insists that ruffling feathers can be the best work one can do, and “sometimes it’s just not necessary to try to make everyone else happy.” He suggests taking a look at negative labels people have assigned you (like “Impatient”) and working with that trait to let it bring positive results in your life (the ability to “save time”).
Equally important, the Relevant article makes a necessary caveat to this idea of Jesus as not-a-nice-guy. Eric continues,
“One last note: Some may read this article and take the other extreme of people-pleasing and use this information to become a ‘Jerk for Jesus,’ someone who calls people out for everything and anything, someone who speaks ‘truth in love’ but doesn’t have a whole lot of love. Someone who may be pegged as having the ‘spiritual gift’ of discouragement. Please don’t be that person.
Though Jesus certainly is radically different than the people-pleasing Christians many of us find ourselves being at times, Jesus is not a hammer looking to nail every person in sight either. May God grant us discretion, wisdom and tact as we navigate through this life allowing His spirit to conform us to His image more and more each day.”
“Beware, lest we swagger with pride in the knowledge that being disliked, unpopular, and obscure will place us in high standing with our Lord. God has a distinct mission for us: to reach the world with the Gospel (that is, John 3:16). He has also set a distinct example for us to follow as we live and try to proclaim that gospel through our words and actions. All too often, however, we fall short of his example and become entirely unapproachable to the exact people we should be loving and reaching with God’s truth and love.
…It’s true, people did leave Jesus. People rejected him and turned away from what he had to say. But notice in [the] passage of the rich young ruler, Jesus did not reject him. Jesus did not turn him away – rather the man "sadly" left Jesus because his heart did not truly seek perfection by God’s standards.”
What do you think? Do struggle with being a people pleaser? Or are you perhaps more prone to forget to add love to your daily doses of truth?
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: December 17, 2013