I am four chapters into a convicting and powerful read called Pleasing People, by Lou Priolo. As I stated in my earlier post, I hope to take each chapter and post some of the gems of Biblical truth and insight into sin that Priolo brings to light.
Chapter one is called "Characteristics of a People Pleaser." Priolo begins the chapter by stating the truths of I Corinthians 2:13. He warns against leaning on human wisdom and psychology to understand what man has labeled "co-dependency." Instead, I Corinthians tells us to diagnose our sin and lives, "not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." Priolo goes on and defines "co-dependency" as idolotry--looking for other things to do what only God can do in my life. He says that people pleasing is a more specific diagnosis that falls under the category of idolotry. It it the idolotry of self and approval from others over the approval of God. (John 12:43)
He gives a quiz to see if the reader falls into the category of a people pleaser. Let me spare you the pain of the questions. You do. I do. We all do. Even if you do not consider yourself a people pleaser, Priolo points out how we are all tempted to care about others' approval more than God's--though some more often than others.
Priolo says there are two driving forces to people pleasing--the desire for approval of others or the fear of losing someone's approval or respect--the two sides of the same coin. He gives a few ways in which you know that you sin in desiring mans' approval more than God's.
1. He fears the displeasure of man more than the displeasure of God. Fear of man is the motivation here. You have thoughts such as, "I'm not prepared to meet this person," "What does he/she think of me?", I can't reveal too much of myself or he will know what I'm really like and reject me.", etc. A people pleaser who fears mans' disapproval "is often willing to forfeit the peace of God that comes from standing up and suffering for the truth." (25) He also makes this careful distinction. "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." (25) They choose lack of conflict over giving the Biblical action or truth.
2. He desires the praise of man above the praise of God. Priolo gives the example of the Pharisees as a biblical portrait of this characteristic. He says that this individual says in his first thought, "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?'" Priolo gives the Biblical examples of being pleasing to and glorifying God in Phil. 4:8, Romans 12:1, and Luke 17:15.
3. He studies what it takes to please man as much as (if not more than) what it takes to please God. This person is considered sensitive. They might label themselves as "reading people well." Priolo states, "The people-pleaser is so intent on gaining approval that he spends much of his time studying the interests, aversions, words, inflections, and body language of people. He is often inordinately sensitive to the countenances of those he is trying to please." (27) With this characteristic is a hypocritical love. He serves/loves others with the wrong motives. He is not really trying to show love Biblically, but, rather, he is trying to improve his own reputation or standing by acting in the interest of others.
4. His speech is designed to entice and flatter others into thinking well of him. Priolo gives the truths of I Thessalonians 2:4-5, which tell us we have been approved by God to give the truths of the gospel in order to please God, not man. However, a people-pleaser:
-Rarely confronts sin in the life of another believer.
-Rarely challenges or even questions the opinions of others.
-Prematurely terminates conflicts (usually by yielding, with drawing or changing the subject)
-Rarely reveals to others the truth about who he really is inside (especially struggles with sin)
-Finds it difficult to say "no" to those who make requests of him, even when he knows that saying "yes" is will not be the best choice.
and the list goes on . . . (pg. 28-29)
5. He is a respecter of persons. This type of individual will put more value on certain people because of their position, authority, reputation, wealth, looks, etc. He is often more kind and caring toward these certain people in order to gain, what looks like to him, an advantage. This goes against the commands of Leviticus 19:15.
6. He is oversensitive to correction, reproof, and other allusions of dissatisfaction or disapproval on the part of others. Any negative comment appears to be a threat to his reputation and he returns Biblical admonishment with foolish contempt, hate, withdrawal, sulking, or pouting.
7. He outwardly renders eye service to man rather than inwardly rendering sincere ministry to the Lord. Doing service for others to see, rather than for glory and obedience to God will cause sin and imbalance. Burnout often will follow. Also, this person doesn't base success on whether God was pleased with the service or attempt, but on how he did in the eyes of man and his definition of success.
8. He selfishly uses the wisdom, abilities, and gifts that have been given to him for God's glory and the benefit of others for his own glory and personal benefit. Wishing for more and practicing a lack of contentment is a sign of using gifts for the approval of others. Priolo gives a long list: "personal wealth, physical beauty, spiritual gifts, wisdom, vocation, artistic ability, athletic ability, verbal ability, musical ability, education, intellectual ability, financial status, family heritage, position in community, position at work, Biblical knowledge, reputation, spiritual accomplishments, location of one's home, appearance of one's home, accomplishments of children, and wordly possessions" are just a few he mentions. In themselves, they can be pleasurable gifts from God. However, when we lust for more or use the gifts to merely serve self, we have sinned.
9. He invests more of his personal resources in establishing his own honor than he does in establishing God's honor. The time, effort, thought and money given to personal edification are more than those given to God or His church body (for the proper motives).
10. He is discontented with the condition and proportion that God has appointed for him. We question God's choice for us. The people pleaser always wants more honor, authority, influence and wealth. A people pleaser isn't thankful.
Okay, that is the end of chapter ONE! I know! I was so full of pain seeing how subtle quirks in my behavior were downright, ugly, prideful sin, that I didn't know if I wanted to read further. However, I did. I'll post more later. I told you this was a convicting and powerful read!