Joyce Meyer - People Pleasers
Today, I'm going to teach about the dangers of being a people-pleaser. So, this is a unique area because we do want to please people, and there's even a scripture that tells us that we should live to please people, but we have to be careful that pleasing people doesn't mean then that we end up not pleasing God.
So, there's nothing better than helping people, serving people, doing things for other people. It needs to be an active part of all of our lives. Nobody here should have the attitude, "Well, I'm just going to do what I please, and I don't care how it affects anybody else". But we have to realize that there are people in the world that will take advantage of us. There are people that are manipulators and controllers and users and abusers, and we have to watch out for those kind of people. But we also have to make sure that we don't have the disease to please, to where we are so afraid of being rejected that we'll always do what somebody else wants us to do, no matter what we want or no matter we feel that we should do.
Some of you have a real problem with this, some of you maybe not so much. But I can't see that everybody in the room could not benefit from this message today. So, father, we thank you for helping us and for setting us free. Do you often find yourself saying yes when somebody asked you to do them a favor and then later regretting it? Perhaps you said, "Yes," while your heart was screaming, "No". And then you end up feeling like a victim and you're resentful. Are you selfless to a fault? Do you feel guilty when you say no? You know, people-pleasers may be people who were often denied affection and love in their childhood, or they only received affection when they were being of service or they were doing exactly what everyone wanted them to do.
In my own childhood, for some reason, I think just because my father was so miserable himself, and you know, unhappy people want to make other people unhappy. There's nothing that annoys an unhappy person more than being around a happy person. I mean, it's true, they don't like it. And so, my dad never was much into fun or laughter. And I can actually remember as a little girl getting in trouble for laughing. And so, I learned that I was always accepted when I was working, when I was accomplishing, when I was doing something for somebody else, but that what I wanted to do didn't seem to be of much value. So, I became what the world calls a workaholic, thinking that I got all my worth and value out of my work.
Now, my natural personality is motivated by accomplishment, so I kind of have had a double problem because I am motivated in that direction, and I am a leader, and I have a lot to do, and I'm serious-minded. And all that's very good, but because of this past that I have of rejection, I've also had to be careful that I don't do things that I feel like that maybe God doesn't want me to do just because I don't want to make somebody mad, or I don't want to disappoint them, or I don't want them not to like me. Does anybody understand what I'm talking about here today? Okay. Especially the thing about anger because my father was a very angry man.
And you know, it continues to amaze me how much we learn in the first few formative years of our life that we don't even really know that we learned, and it just becomes part of us. And honestly, sometimes it can take you 75 years to get over what you learned in 3 years as a child. We spend a lot of time unlearning things that we learned, as well as trying to learn things that we need to learn. So, because my father was angry and would get violent when he was angry, everybody in the house kind of played this game, we just all did everything we could to make sure that dad didn't get angry. And so, I still one of my weaknesses today, not the only one, but it is one and one that I know that I have to watch for. And you're well to know your weaknesses. Everybody needs to be bold enough to face your weaknesses because that's the area where Satan will hit you. So, you have to be aware of what those weaknesses are.
So, I don't like it when people, especially, in the family, are mad at me. Now, there's some people I couldn't care less, but in my family, people that I have to be around all the time, I don't want any upset. I don't even want my kids to be mad at each other. I don't want Dave and one of our kids to be mad at each other. I grew up with so much turmoil as a child that I just really am a huge fan of peace. Well, we all should want peace, but we never should start compromising what we believe that God wants us to do in order to keep it. If God says, "To confront," then we've got to confront. If he says, "Say no," then we need to say, "No".
So, I want to say again there's nothing wrong with pleasing people, but if it means that you don't please God in order to please people, then you're going to miss your destiny if you do that. Listen to what the apostle Paul said, I love this, Galatians 1:10. "Now, am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I would not now be a bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ". So, you know what he's really saying there? "If my goal was to keep everybody around me happy, I would've missed my destiny". Amen? I mean, that's a strong thing to think about. I wonder how many people have even turned their back on serving Christ because if they did, it was going to mean the loss of friendships, or they couldn't be part of the group anymore.
Matter of fact, here's a scripture that backs that up. John chapter 12, verses 42 and 43, "And yet in spite of all this, many of the leading men, (the authorities and the nobles) believed and trusted in Jesus. But because of the pharisees they would not confess it, for fear that if they acknowledged him, they would be expelled from the synagogue". 43, "For they loved the approval and the praise and the glory that comes from men instead of and more than the glory that comes from God. They valued their credit with men more than their credit with God". So, here are people who believed in Jesus, but they wouldn't talk about it openly. They wouldn't openly go forward with a full-on relationship with God because they were afraid that they would be asked to leave the church.
Well, when God touched my life in 1976 and called me to teach, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and I got so excited about God. You know, when people that are excited about God, really excited about God, are with people who are not really excited about God, they're going to call you a religious fanatic, a nut, you're overboard, you've gone too far, a religious freak. Well, nobody likes that. And to be honest, when you get excited about God and your friends are not excited about God, even your friends at church, not everybody who goes to church is excited about God, amen? A lot of people just go because that's what they do, or that it's a duty, but they don't even really want to be there. They come in late, they can't wait for it to be over, they sleep through most of it or play around with their phone. And that's not, I mean, that means nothing to God, nothing at all.
But I can tell you if you get excited and the people around you aren't, then they're going to want to get rid of you, or try to change you and get you to compromise and be like them. If you want to really serve God full-on, now listen to what I'm going to say, don't mean it to be negative, but if you're going to really have a full-on relationship with God, you might as well get ready for some rejection 'cause you're going to get it. And it doesn't bother us much unless it's people we really love. When I got really excited about God, I was asked to leave my church. They gave me two options, "You need to stop talking about this stuff, or you're going to need to leave".
Well, me being quiet then was not an option. And I'm not sure I'd be much better at it now, but this was a big thing for us because Dave grew up in that particular denomination, everybody in his family was part of that denomination. That's just who we were. Our kids went to school there, our whole social life revolved around there. So, for me to be where I'm at today, I had to be willing to lose something. Come on. So, you know, the Bible says if you want to gain the higher life, you got to lose the lower life. And if you hang on to the lower life, you'll lose the higher life. And I can tell you right now if your friends or your family are sending you a silent message that you are out of their affection if you're going to continue to do this Jesus thing, then let me tell you, they do not love you and they are not your friends. And you might as well know now rather than later.
I wonder how many people want more of God in their life. Want more of God. But you know, some people, you've been stuck in a certain place for so long, and that's where your whole life is, and you know that it would just really stir up some stuff if you decided to leave and go somewhere else where you could be fed differently, or maybe you'd even just like to go to a Bible study or something, but your friends wouldn't, "Well, what are you doing that for? Well, why are you doing that"? Make decisions for yourself because if you don't, nobody else is going to, amen? And please let's remember that we all are going to come to the end of what we call life.
There's two things you cannot avoid, and that's taxes and death. They get all of us. We are going to die sometime. And when we do, everything that we cared about here that we thought was so valued is going to be no more. And there's only going to be one person to face, and that should be who we have made the most important in our life, and that's God Almighty, amen? And I'm pretty convinced that we don't think enough about Judgment Day. Ooh. I teach on Judgment Day once in a while, boy, you talk about a quiet crowd. I mean, the Bible does say in Romans 14 that, "Every man will stand before God and give an account of his life," amen? And we don't have to be afraid of that. There's nothing to fear. But we are going to give an account of what we've done with ourselves.
Don't make a second-rate commitment to God so you can stay in favor with a bunch of people that you don't even like, come on, and who don't really care about you anyway. You know, oddly enough, when we let people control us, when we try to do everything they want us to do, we think that it's going to gain us favor with them, but to be honest, it usually causes them to disrespect you. You know, strong-willed people who try to control other people, they really are annoyed by weak-willed people who won't stand up to them. I mean, that's actually, the truth. And so, they're going to get aggravated when you first do it, especially if you've let somebody control you for a long time and you start trying to stand up to them. You might as well get ready for a fight.
But let me tell you something, you are responsible to do what God wants you to do, not what every other human being in the world wants you to do. Trying to meet everybody's expectations is like trying to drain the ocean with a teaspoon. It's, you're not, I mean, my gosh. I mean, I'm a minister, people would love me to visit their sick relatives, they'd love me to do all their weddings, they'd love me to do all their funerals. A lot of people who have events, they've heard from God that I should come and be their speaker. And you know, I finally learned that, you know, God told you, but he didn't told me. And I'm the one that has to be told, right?
You know, I hate it when Christians pull that card. "Well, the Lord put it on my heart that you should do this. I have a word from God". Well, you know, right away that kind of makes you think, "Well, I mean, if you're hearing from God". Stand up to that. If somebody else tells you that they heard from God about something you should do, unless it's a confirmation of something that God already put in your heart. God is not going to give somebody else the responsibility of running your life. We're going to talk about king Saul for a little bit this morning.
1 Samuel chapter 15, the first three verses. "Samuel," who was a prophet, "Told Saul," who was the king, "'the Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel. Now listen and heed the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'i have considered and will punish what Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way when Israel came out of Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek,'" I want you to watch this wording, "'and utterly'", everybody say utterly, "'destroy all they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey'". Now, admittedly that sounds pretty severe. "And he took Agag, king of the Amalekites alive, but he utterly destroyed all the rest of the people with the sword".
So, he almost did what God told him to. Now, this is a very important part of this message because, to be honest, many times we give a sacrifice instead of obedience. It's like, and we get deceived because we think if we do some part of what God told us to do, that somehow or another that excuses us from not doing it all, but it doesn't. Many years ago, when I was needing to study and learn and grow from the Word of God so I could teach, at that time I was only teaching a Bible study in my home every Tuesday night, about 20, 25 people. And I had a family, kids, I couldn't take off and go to Bible college somewhere. And I needed to study, I needed to dig into the word and study. And I was working a full-time job, and God started putting it on my heart and I had a desire to quit working and raise my family, do what I needed to do at home, but spend any time that I could get then to study.
And, but I did the math and we didn't have enough money to pay the bills. We were about $45 short every month of having enough money to pay the bills if I didn't keep working. So, God was wanting me to trust him. He wanted me to trust him to provide, but I was accustomed to taking care of myself, and so that was frightening to me. Now, it was important for me to do it because what we need today, I don't care how hard I worked, I couldn't provide it. And so, you have to start learning how to trust God with something small if you ever want to get to the point where you can trust God for things that are just way beyond anything you could ever even think of.
So, finally, after God dealt with me a lot, and Dave and I talked, and Dave was always all for doing whatever you feel like God's telling you to do, and I almost obeyed God. I quit my full-time job and I got a part-time job. And I look back now and it amuses even me to think that I could serve God with part-time obedience. And I'm just wondering how many people here today or how many watching by TV, you're giving God some part-time obedience and wondering why things aren't working out good in your life. Well, guess what? God did me a big favor. I got fired. And I'd never been fired from a job in my life. I was not the kind of worker that got fired. I mean, I was a good, hard worker. And I was well qualified to do what I was doing, but lo and behold, the office manager was a woman who practiced witchcraft. Yeah, ooh. And I didn't know what in the world was going on there, it was just this weird atmosphere and just goofy, strange things happened. And then one day, I saw her photo copying a book on witchcraft.
Well, I tried to help her and tell her that that was wrong and, you know, of course that just made her dislike me all the more. Long story short, I got fired. I just got fired. And so, I got the message. Quit your job. Some of you need to get the message today. Any time that you give God part-time obedience, you're giving up something wonderful that God wants to do in you and through you, and you're hanging on to something that isn't even really making you happy. Come on. Some of you are disobeying God to keep a group of friends that you don't even really like, that I can tell you right now if you really were in bind and you needed them, they would run as far away from you as they could get.
All these friends that I thought I had to keep, not only was I asked to leave my church, but they all turned their back on me too. Everybody thought I had gone stark Raving mad when I started as a woman back in those days trying to teach the Bible, especially since I had no proper education to do it. "Well, who do you think you are? You haven't been to seminary". Well, I didn't know you had to have all that. I was just, I just thought God told you to do something, you ought to go do it. So, I felt like he told me to start teaching. I mean, the way my ministry started is so simple that it's actually downright dumb.
After God touched my life and I got so excited, there was a girl that I carpooled with, and I was telling her about Jesus. And so, she got to the point where she wanted to accept Jesus, so I took her in the bathroom one day at work, and I prayed the prayer of salvation with her and led her to the Lord. So, okay, I'm the office manager there, and I didn't realize because I was the office manager that they all might feel like they had to do what I wanted them to do. I'm totally innocent. So, I invite these 12 women in the office to a Bible study, and I thought it was really cool 'cause they all said, "Yes".
So, I started a Bible study at a restaurant in downtown st. Louis at 6 A.M. on Wednesday morning. And the very first one, I went to my pastor, who had not yet thrown me out of the church, and I said, "If somebody was going to teach the Bible, what would be a good place to start"? And he said, "The book of John". And I asked him, like, "What kind of a reference book would you suggest"? And he suggested a Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. So, I got me a Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, opened up to John chapter 1, invited 12 people, and off we went. And here I am today.
I mean, I'll tell you the truth, just get busy doing what you think God wants you to do. "Well, what if I'm wrong"? Well, what if you're not? And even if you are wrong, is that going to be the end of the world? You've been wrong about a lot of stuff already anyway. So, the very first Bible study, every woman got a $10 parking ticket 'cause they were parked in a no parking zone. So, we had a great beginning. Long story short, the union made me move the thing away from the office. I took it to my house, it grew. You know, the devil loves to make you think it's all over and God loves to say, "Well, watch me make it grow". C'mon, alright. Didn't really mean to get into all that, but the point is, is that you have to have full obedience to God if you wanna fulfill your destiny.
Now, I want you to listen to what I'm gettin' ready to say. Every time that God is ready to promote you, every time that you are makin' really good progress, I believe, from my experience and what I find in the word, that one of the main things that Satan uses against us is rejection from other people. And I don't have the time to tell you the stories, but I mean, I could go back and tell you every time I was at a place where God was ready to promote me to the next level of my ministry, taught a home Bible study for 5 years, God said, "Lay that down".
After a while, I went to work at a church. After a while, God sent me out to start doing what I'm doing now, and that's been 30-some odd years ago. But each time, the first time when I started teachin' a little home Bible study, got put out of my church, lost my friends. Same thing the second time when it was time for me to leave the church, lost a lot of the friends I had at that time. Let me tell ya somethin', people are not always happy for you when you're doing what God is telling you to do. You almost have to get to the point where you say, "I don't care if Jesus is the only friend I've got in the whole world, I am not going to bow down to the demands of people and let them steal my destiny".
Now, I'm just gonna throw this out there because I feel this. I think we need to hear it sometimes. If you work someplace, and you make really great money, and it's a good job, and you have prestige, and you have honor, but you're havin' to compromise morally to keep that job, you're makin' a big mistake 'cause your money's not gonna mean anything to you on Judgment Day. I know, sometimes this kinda teaching gets us a little bit nervous, but, you know, I'm not called by God to tell you what you wanna hear. I'm called to tell you what you need to hear.
And see, even that, I had to learn a long time ago that if I get up here and just preach what is gonna make me popular with people, whoo, I'm not gonna be doin' it very long. I had to take a chance on losin' a job at one point because the boss wanted me to lie, and there was a lot of reasons why I couldn't lose the job, trust me, a lot of reasons. And I wrestled all night with, "What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do"? And I finally had to just make the decision, "You know, if I lose my job, if I lose everything, I can't lie for him. I'm not gonna do that". And I went in and told him that I was a Christian and I said, "I don't wanna lose my job here, but I can't do what you're askin' me to do. I just don't feel like it's right".
Well, and me telling him I didn't feel like it was right, I was telling him he was wrong. Oh, I mean, he turned red in the face, and he's shufflin' papers around on his desk, and finally, he just said, "Well, just get back out there and go to work". And what it was, was the company owed somebody money. I was the bookkeeper, and he wanted me to do something to their account to make it look like we didn't owe them the money. And so, I would have not only been lyin', but helpin' him steal. And by the way, this was way back, before I ever taught my first Bible study.
Let me tell ya somethin'. Sometimes God is testing you. To see if you're somebody that could be promoted, somebody that he could trust on a higher level. Come on, God's got so many amazing things for you. Don't mess it up just by trying to keep something that is not even worth it. Come on, is this helpin' anybody? So, I was fully expecting him to come out before the day was over and tell me I was fired. About 5 minutes to quitting time, he came out, and he put that person's account on my desk. He said, "Well, just send 'em a check. Give 'em their money back".
Ahh, you know what? I ended up getting promoted, promoted, promoted, promoted until nobody in that company other than him had any more authority than me. I was over the truck drivers, I mean, everything, and I no more had the education to do it than a man in the moon, but God can anoint you way beyond your level of education.
Okay, Luke chapter 10: "Now after this the Lord chose and appointed seventy other people and he sent them out ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come". And he said, "Whenever you go into a town and they receive and accept and welcome you, then eat what's set before you: heal the sick, say to them, 'the Kingdom of God has come close to you'. But whenever you go into a town and they do not receive and accept and welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we are wiping off against you'".
Now, this story's told in some of the other Gospels, and you get a little bit somethin' different out of each one. But in essence, he was sending them out to preach ahead of him, to prepare the way of the Lord. And you know, really, that's what every Bible teacher or preacher is doing. We're crying out, just like John the Baptist, "Prepare the way of the Lord". Get your lives in a condition that's gonna be agreeable to God because he's coming back soon, amen? So they said, "Go and preach, and if they accept you, great. If they don't, then don't let that bother you too much. Just shake it off," come on. Because he said, "You won't run out of towns to preach in until I come back".
So, I have a whole message that I've done, haven't done it for a long time called "Shake it off". You know, there's a lot of things that we let cling to us, and we let those things hurt us and cause us to make bad decisions. And if somebody rejects you, just shake it off. Just go, "I don't have time to mess with that". Cause you know what? If one person rejects you, there's somebody else that will like you. And you really just need to come to the point where you realize that just because somebody rejects you doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. But we feel so wounded by rejection. Well, then it gets really good.
Next verse, verse 16 says: "'he who hears and heeds you disciples hears and heeds me: and he who slights and rejects you slights and rejects me: and he who slights and rejects me slights and rejects him who sent me'". So, basically, if I'm preaching up here and I'm doin' what God wants me to do, and I'm preaching a message God wants me to preach, and I'm preaching against sin or against dishonesty or against adultery or whatever it might be, and somebody's bothered by it and they get up and leave, well, in the beginning, oh, that would be so hard for me because I felt so rejected. And then I would say, "Well, maybe, you know, am I doin' the wrong thing? Maybe I shouldn't preach".
You know, we don't have to start second guessing ourself all the time just because somebody else doesn't clap and cheer for what we do. Come on, somebody needs this today. And now I can tell you the truth. I don't, I mean, I don't like it if somebody leaves, but I just figure now you're gonna miss a good message, you know? You have to have confidence. If you believe that you are being led by the Spirit, then you need to go forward with confidence. And I'm not sayin' that we're the kinda people that can never be corrected, but you can't let everybody else in the world tell you if you're okay or not.
Come on, "Do I look okay? Is my hair okay? Please, somebody tell me I'm okay". Well, God is sayin', "You're okay. I created you with my own hand in your mother's womb. I fashioned you and formed you. I've given you your personality". Well, I'm havin' more fun that I ought to. Now, even when we do something to please people, which, it's not wrong to wanna please people. It's not wrong at all. I love to please people, and there are times when I will back down from somethin' to keep peace, but it never puts me in a position where, in order to do that, I'm disobeying God.
I want you to see the fine line of what I'm talkin' about here today. By all means, please people. Do as much as you can for other people, serve people. And you don't even have to want to do everything that you do. What you do is you follow your heart, and if it's somethin' you feel like God would have you do, then you do it. But when we do things for other people, we always need to make sure that our motive is right in what we're doing, that we're not just doing it to have them think well of us, or so we'll be in some certain group or some certain place of favor. Matthew 6 talks about that plainly.
I'll just read ya a couple of verses, verse 1: "'take care not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by them: otherwise you won't have any reward waiting for you in heaven. When you give to the poor, don't blow a trumpet, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and the streets like to do, that they may be recognized and honored by men. I tell you, they have their reward in full already'". When we do things to be seen of men, we're trying to make a favorable impression on them, hoping they will admire and accept us, and that's not what God wants us to do. If I do what I believe that God wants me to do, I can trust him to give me favor with you, and God can make you like me, whether you want to or not.
See, some of you wonder why you like me. Well, that's it. God's given you no choice. All over the Bible, it tells us to live to please God. Colossians 1:10: "That you might walk live and conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him and desiring to please him in all things".
Ephesians 5:10: "Try to learn in your experience what is pleasing to the Lord let your life be a constant proof of what is most acceptable to him".
Hebrews 11:6: "Without faith, it's impossible to please God". See, I wrote down here, "We should be sure that what we do is done by faith, and not because of the fear of man's anger or disapproval".
All right, does anybody here today have the disease to please? Some of you look like you really need this, but it's just wearin' you out just havin' to even think about everything you may have to change when you leave here. You know what? When you've formed a habit of giving other people their way all the time, I'm gonna be honest and tell ya, it's not gonna be an easy habit to break. And not only that, it'll even be hard on the other people, so you might have to, let's just say that you've got a family that's just used to you doin' all the work while they sit around and do nothin'. Yeah, well, some of you are clappin'. Some of you want to, but you don't.
You know, instead of just goin' home and startin' to act like some kind of an angry army sergeant, you might need to say, "You know what? I just need to share somethin' with you guys. I realize that I really have not been listening to God. I've been doin' everything just to make sure that you're happy, and I really feel like God wants me to start takin' some time for myself and standin' up for myself". And, you know, they won't like it, but let me tell ya somethin', if somebody really loves you, I mean, really, really loves you, they're gonna want you to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Okay, so let's ask a few questions here. You have the disease to please if you can't say, "No," without feeling bad about it. Are there times when you sacrifice and do things for other people because you feel like you'd be selfish to say, "No"? You should see some of the way some of you guys are lookin'. It's like... Well, insecurity is the root cause of the disease to please. If you're secure, you can make decisions that you believe God approves of, whether the people like it or not. Being a people-pleaser causes a lot of anxiety because most of the time, if you're a people-pleaser, you will end up overloading your schedule and your life because everybody expects something out of you, and they all expect something different.