Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I’ll feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Pleasing People: How Not to be an Approval Junkie by Lou Priolo.
In his introduction Lou says:
I never thought of myself as a people-pleaser. I had confronted hundreds of counselees about the sin in their lives. I’d done the same for many of my friends (some of whom turned into enemies). I faced ridicule and censure from other “Christian counselors” and from some of my colleagues for the position I held on the sufficiency of Scripture. I even stood up to people in positions of authority who I believed were in error. Once, my opposing position contributed to costing me a job. Surely I didn’t have a problem with the love of approval.
But I did! As I was confronted with the material you will encounter in this book (initially as a result of preparing a series of sermons on the subject), I had to confess that I was not as free from the love of approval as I’d thought.
Personally, I spent much of my early life as an “approval junkie.” But, like Lou, as a biblical counselor, I must lovingly confront people with their sin on a regular basis. I thought, surely I have had victory over this area of my life! But, as I read this book, I was convicted that pleasing people is still a big struggle for me.
Lou goes on:
You see, the sin of pride, which is at the heart of being a people-pleaser, is an insidious thing. Like a cataract that slowly covers the eye of its victim, pride keeps us from seeing our sins, thus preventing us from properly dealing with them.
While few of us will ever be completely free from the temptation to be a people pleaser, it is important to deal with this area of life. Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.”
In the world of pop-psychology people pleasing is often referred to as “codependency,” but as Lou goes on:
The notion of “codependency” has been given lots of attention in recent years.
As Christians, however, we must take care to define and diagnose man’s problems “not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:13 NIV). So what does God’s Word call this not-so-new phenomenon? Actually, several biblical words describe it. In the most general terms, the concept of codependency seems to best fall under the biblical category of “idolatry”-looking to someone (or something) else to do for me those things that only God can do. In terms of a type of person who is characterized by this particular kind of behavior, “people-pleaser” is the more specific diagnosis. The motive of such an individual is identified in John 12:43: he “loved the approval of men rather than [or at least more than] the approval of God.”
Lou provides a “People Pleasing Inventory” that can help us evaluate the extent of people pleasing in our lives. it contains questions about things like our desire to be noticed or get credit for a job well done, our concern for being politically correct as opposed to biblically correct, our motivation for having a good reputation, our willingness to face rejection, how we respond to being publicly corrected, and how we respond to criticism and peer pressure.
Some characteristics of a people pleaser:
- He fears the displeasure of men more than the displeasure of God.
He is often obsessed with thoughts of “What will they think of me?” and worries about revealing too much about himself.
The love of man’s approval is inextricably bound to the fear of man’s disapproval. When a people-pleaser interacts with others, his thoughts immediately and instinctively run in the direction of selfishness, anxiety, and fear.
- He avoids conflict.
A people-pleaser is not a peacemaker, but rather a peace-lover. A peacemaker is willing to endure the discomfort of a conflict in the hope of bringing about a peaceful resolution. (Peace not only is the absence of conflict, but is often the result of it.) A peace-lover is so afraid of conflict that he will avoid it at almost all costs. He is so concerned about “keeping the peace” with his fellow man that he is often willing to forfeit the peace of God that comes from standing up and suffering for the truth. He is essentially a coward at heart.
- He desires the praise of man above the praise of God.
The people-pleaser is a hypocrite. He is a Pharisee at heart. His service to man and to God is contaminated by impure desires. His religion is more external than it is internal. What he does is done outwardly, with his motive being a strong desire to draw attention to himself. His first thought is not “How will God be glorified by what I am about to do?” but rather “How will others perceive me when I do what I am about to do?”
Even those things that are religious in nature (such as prayer, fasting, and giving) can be done with a hypocritical motive to gain man’s approval.
- His speech is designed to entice and flatter others into thinking well of him.
- He is a respecter of persons.
- He is oversensitive to correction, reproof, and other allusions of dissatisfaction or disapproval on the part of others.
- He is discontented with the condition and proportion that God has appointed for him.
But Lou doesn’t leave us stinging with conviction without lovingly showing us how we can move from being a people pleaser to a God pleaser. The book is full of truth from God’s Word and Lou provides a helpful “heart journal” to help us evaluate where we need to apply that truth.
Quotations taken from:
Lou Priolo. Pleasing People: How not to be an “approval junkie.” Kindle Edition.
Previously featured books:
Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. You can read my post here.
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