Reason #1001 why I am not Saint Paul:
“Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” –Galatians 1:10
But Saint P.!! Why can I not seek both? I realize in your circumstances that you had to give the early churches a little dose of tough love, when they were going off the rails and straying from Jesus’ teaching. Had you been too soft on them, Christianity might well have died out. But why do I have to be an old meanie like you? (Oh, I’m sorry! I meant to say, an old sweetie like you! Am I forgiven?)
All my life, I have been searching for complete and universal acceptance and approval. I only acted out when I was with my immediate family, and even then my heartfelt apologies were quick to follow any nastiness to sisters or parents. When friends feuded, I always took sides—with each of them. Which I think kind of cancelled everything out, especially when Friend #1 and Friend #2 were in the same room with me, each demanding I voice my opinion.
As a parent, I may have SAID, “I’m your mother, not your friend!” and actually followed through with some consequences for misbehavior, but deep down I was thinking, “I’m your mother, not just your friend—I’m your BEST friend.” Never mind that during the delightful middle school years, it was clear that I was mama non grata 90% of the time. I remember (still with a twinge) when easy going Sheridan went away to music camp in 8th grade, and came home a sullen sad sack. I found a letter he was penning to a girl he’d met there, telling her how dreadful Steve and I were. I think I cried for a week, by which point Sher had completely forgotten about both letter and girl.
Church life is tricky, because everyone is so invested in their stake in it. Either our youth are never in church (my fault) or the kids are doing too much in church (mea culpa). Some people love the mission trips I lead, others criticize them to the max. And very often, I hear about these dissenters second hand, “I’ve heard some people say…etc.” Who are these “people”? I spend my hours in worship scanning the crowd for possible culprits. But if I ever found out who was dissing me? I would probably just do my best to butter them up (the amount of buttering up I do must account for the extra ten pounds I’m lugging around.)
So, Paul-formerly-known-as-Saul, what’s your advice for me? I only want to serve the Lord, and at the same time keep my shiny Miss Congeniality crown. Is this possible? Please tell me I can be a People Pleasing Christian! Without, of course, sacrificing my ideals or personal integrity!
Whichever way you answer, dear Paul, I agree with you!
|At a speaking gig--just people pleasing away!|