Some of the greatest pain I've known in life I have brought on myself through attempting the impossible: pleasing other people. Just think of the effort and angst we extend every day trying to get others to like or approve or affirm us. Don't be fooled — people-pleasing is a dead-end street.
Whether the people you crave recognition from is your boss, your parent, your friend, or someone from your past — when you position them as judge and jury over your life, you're putting yourself in bondage.
Jesus came to set you free from this painful pattern of living. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed," (John 8:36). Two choices that helped me turn the corner on this issue are:
Choice #1 I minimize my focus on what others think of me.
Paul faced the temptation to people-please. Notice his response to people comparing his and Apollos' ministries in 1 Corinthians 4:3:
"But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself."
He minimized the weight he placed on others' opinions. "It's a very small thing," he said.
Remember that when you're driving home from this Thanksgiving with your parents, reliving all the tensions of the day and wishing your mom would've said what she's never said, and may never say. No matter how big her rejection feels to you, believe what the Scripture says: "It's a very small thing."
Choice #2 I maximize my focus on what God thinks of me.
I've had to come to the place in my life where my consuming passion is to focus on God's evaluation. Let me suggest four ways to do this:
#1 Spend quality and quantity time with the Lord. More time with Him will help you know and desire to do what pleases Him most.
#2 Don't be controlled or manipulated by emotional blackmail. Some people hold a dynamite stick in one hand and a match in the other and threaten to control you by intimidation. Just walk away.
#3 Limit enslaving friendships. People who base relationships on performance, not acceptance, are never satisfied. Limit their influence and the time you spend with them.
#4 Get alone with the Lord on a daily basis and ask,“Lord, are you pleased with my life? God is the only one who has all the facts, sees all the motives and knows why your boss is never satisfied or why your dad won't accept you as you are. Let it go and focus on pleasing Him alone.
One hundred years from today only God's assessment of your life will matter.