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: Continue reading