Question: I Want People To Like Me Or I’ll Die Probably

Anonymous asked:

How does one get over the sin of being liked or accepted by the people around them? I struggle so hard by not caring and reminding me that Christ’s love is enough, but sometimes its just so hard not to care and to not forget that Christ’s love is enough. I want to change, but it seems like every time I try I keep stumbling and failing. What should I do?

Along with anger, lust, and pride, this is one of the most besetting sins I’ve ever had the non-pleasure of battling.  May I first please point you to a message I did on this recently here, called “I Am Addicted To People.”  I talk about the Five Types of People-Pleasers: Entertainer, Rescuer, Romantic, Reputation, and Victim.

The main problem goes by a lot of names: People-Pleasing, Attention-Seeking, Co-Dependency, Peer Pressure, Daddy Issues, Attention-Whore, Class-Clown, Yes-Man.  It’s all from the same motives.

There are some fundamental issues to explore with wanting to be liked by people.  Once you expose the lies, you can begin to see your way to the truth.

1) Trying to get everyone’s approval is logistically impossible.

Since everyone has a different opinion about your life and what you should do with it, it’s downright impossible to meet everyone’s acceptance of you. Whether you’re addicted to making people happy or getting people to approve of you (both which come from the same motives), it’s a fruitless exhausting endeavor. 

A lot of people will also have the wrong facts on you, so you can discard that right out of hand.  People will always think they have the best for you when they don’t.

2) Need people less but love them more. (Edward T. Welch)

Maybe this will sound a bit harsh, but the biggest reason we look to peoples’ acceptance is because we are treating them like “commodity-resources,” in which each person is a vending machine that dispenses the drug called approval.  Trying to please people is really about serving yourself. 

If you can begin to view people as actual people with other functions besides getting you “high,” you can quit needing them and start to love them. 

When you really get to know people and love them, you’ll already begin to think of yourself less.  That’s true humility.  And that’s half the battle.

3) Don’t care what people think about you, but DO care what they think.

It’s impossible not to care about people’s thoughts.  So it’s not enough to flip a table and yell, “I don’t care what you people think!”  The second you say you don’t care about something, you care enough to say you don’t care. 

If you don’t care at all what people think, you have to hide in a high tower with a dead heart and a stone cold soul which is making yourself less human and not more.  We have to care at least a little if just for the sake of hearing rebuke and the hard truth.

So instead there must be a re-channeling.  I care less and less about what people think of me, but I do care what they think at all. I might not care that people think I’m a buffoon, but I do care if they love Jesus and are not condemning themselves.  I don’t care if someone thinks I’m a moron, but I do care if they think they’re a moron.  I don’t care if someone hates on me, but I care if they want to kill themselves.  Huge difference.

Again, this is about loving people more and reducing our need for them.  It takes a disciplined practice to even begin down this road, but that uphill climb is totally worth the freedom.  To be free to love people instead of needing them so bad.

My first pastor was one of those people.  I always sensed he loved me, but he never really needed me for anything.  He didn’t feed off my attention or approval or laughter or anything else.  He was a free soul because he just loved me.  That’s a good place to be.

4) What exactly can people do?

I totally understand the heartache and fear of someone not liking you.  Whenever I find out someone doesn’t like me, my soul stretches out to them and I want to shake them by the shoulders and find out WHY.  But then what? 

Hebrews 13:6 (the verse I preached from) says, So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

So let’s break that down.  Fear is when you exaggerate a perfectly normal response to an abnormal level.  It’s like looking at a cat and thinking it’s Godzilla.  Fear predicts a false future; but you already know your future is secure through the cross and resurrection of Christ.  So Satan can’t use that one now.

The Lord is my helper. Say that with confidence. It’s already enough that God is with us.  That verse is mind-blowing in itself: that the God of the universe loves me.  But that second part —What can man do to me? –is like a wake-up call. 

I used to be totally mortified when someone didn’t like me.  There was fear.  But what exactly can this person do to me? If they don’t like me then will I spontaneously explode?  Are they going to kidnap my kids and stab me and burn down my house? Should I suddenly become a desperate sniveling butt-kissing weirdo to get their approval?  Make them like me or else?  And what does their approval actually do for me?  Somehow feed my soul until I’m spiritually full?

If you can dig to the inevitable bottom of this lie — that if people don’t like me then I’ll somehow die a horrible death — then it begins to look like the ridiculous lie it really is. 

If you can dismantle Satan’s strategy here, you can see right through it and keep moving.  Satan hates that.  God wants that.  We want that. 

8 thoughts on “Question: I Want People To Like Me Or I’ll Die Probably

  1. I just went through this one with my daughter. If people don’t like you, they don’t INVITE you. You sit home alone while they do fun things together –and in our society this can really seem like a horrible death.

    We don’t think about all those other folks on the margin who are also sitting home alone; our focus is on the “in group” that’s out doing things together. Yet so many “best friends” seem to be just hanging on, hoping a bit of the popularity glow will fall on them, too.

    In visiting one-to-one I’ve learned that some of the most socially active people are also lonely. Who’d a thunk it? Your post is right on; people will always respond to someone who cares, because people who really do care are so scarce.


  2. I can relate to this addiction.. I used to be the big person seeking approval all the time.Finally, one day I found myself worn out. Then reality hit me, One can never truly please a person, the more you do, the more they want you to do. So I concluded, to learn to please, love and care for yourself, and there lies my happiness.


  3. Sounds like you’ve gotten to the bottom of your problem – fear. Fear is a great motivator, so it is said. Wanting to please God more than human beings is another motivator. “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
    I want to be a servant of Christ more than a servant to men. God help me!


    1. Another thought – further on in Galatians, Paul speaks of another motivator – love. (2:20) Not that Paul loved Christ but that Christ love Paul and gave Himself for him. (1 John 4:10) “Christ’s love compels us” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14. May we “grasp how wide and long and high and deep…the love of Christ [is] and…know this love that surpasses knowledge” that nothing else moves us in all of creation.


  4. Thank you all for your comments and for sharing your personal struggle. I have forgotten how big of an issue this was. I’ll most likely follow up again with different angles here and there, particularly with success, sexuality, center-of-attention, and ministry-approval. People-pleasing remains one of my most besetting sins, but shall not define us …!


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