Giving up for Lent: People Pleasing

The next thing to give on the list of forty things is to give up People Pleasing. I suspect that would be helpful for many people. The website lists that challenge this way:

6. People Pleasing – I can’t please everyone anyways. There is only one I need to strive to please.

Giving up “people pleasing” is difficult for many reasons. On the one hand, what exactly is wrong with pleasing people? If what I do gives joy and delight to my children or my grandchildren or my husband or family or friends why should I give that up? On the other hand, if the burden of pleasing family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, the boss or whoever makes me anxious and afraid why wouldn’t I give it up?


I am of the age, that people pleasing was part of what cultural expected of women. I was encouraged to be “nice” and to “get along” and to “not stir the pot” or “ask too many questions” and to do what it took to make myself acceptable as a woman in a man’s world. With the personality, it didn’t always work well. Nonetheless the voices in my head certainly encourage me to try and make everyone happy.

Now, I know I cannot, just like all of us know that. I suspect, many of us still try. Most of us want to be liked and one way or another, depending on the situation, we may please people so that we will be liked. Often the pleasing other people means that we get lost in other’s expectations and we lose our own sense of self and purpose.

As I was pondering how it was I found ways not to give in to my own tendency to give in to pressure to please people I ran across these seven strategies.


Good advice for anyone who is looking to live authentically and faithfully. People pleasing means that I, you, we end up giving more of our life and energy to what other people want and not near enough to what we want and what God wants. It is not selfish or self-centered to be careful about how we spend our time and our resources. It is not selfish or self-centered to be clear about who we are, what is important to us and how we choose to live our lives. That is honesty and faithfulness.


Paul says it well, it is not people approval we need, but God’s. God has called each of us to a life of faith and authentic living. Today, let’s give up people pleasing and take on a life of loving and serving God. I truly am graced to serve.


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