Dear Girl,

I’m a people pleaser. I’m also very confident in what I believe. It’s a very difficult combination.

My passion for truth in every area – seeking it out, researching it, finding out why I should believe what I believe – has sometimes tossed me in the crosshairs of conflicting opinion. The discovery that not everyone shared – or liked – my worldview was difficult to swallow. The idea that people might not like me because of my personality and opinions was even harder to take.

But unfortunately, that’s how things are.

I used to think that being a Christian meant you were nice and everyone liked you. If I wasn’t liked, I took it to mean I was not living out my Christian faith appropriately or that my beliefs were misplaced. But I couldn’t get up the gumption to abandon my beliefs, especially since they were more than mere opinion. I was left to decide between being liked or having values.

Certainly this isn’t always the case; there are people who share my views. There are people who don’t share my views who are my good friends. And of course, we all should evaluate ourselves to be sure we aren’t rude, offensive, or bulldozing those around us. But my people-pleasing has at times, caused me to water down my convictions just to be liked.

Dear girl, not everyone will like you. And that’s okay.

Why do we want to be liked? Often it’s because we feel affirmed by the approval of others. We gain a sense of belonging, of being wanted, and being a part of a community. We have a sense of value and identity associated with those who approve of us.

But the approval of people is fragile. It depends on a variety of variables: kindness, manners, mood, financial circumstances, job situations, and church attendance. Some are able to see past such things to extend their friendship and love; others are more affected. Human approval is never completely secure.

This insecurity puts us in a precarious emotional position. We twist and dance and form ourselves into pretzels to keep the approval in place, and in doing so begin to lose a sense of who we are and what we believe. Forming ourselves for the approval of others leaves us looking more like others than like ourselves.

I know because I’ve been there.

The apostle Peter went there, too. During Jesus’ arrest and trial Peter lingered nearby, true to his commitment ‘never to leave’ the Lord’s side (John 18:15-27). He was committed to Jesus; He loved the Master. But people began to ask questions. Peter didn’t want to go back on his word, but he didn’t want to be universally disliked to the point of arrest, either.

So Peter denied Jesus for the approval of people – even the approval of a little girl.

Dear girl, human approval is fleeting. You need an approval that is secure.

In Christ, everything we are and all we have done is consumed in what He accomplished on the Cross. As the old hymn so rightly says: “God the just was satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me.”

In pardoning us through Jesus’ sacrifice, God bestowed His approval. We are approved because Jesus is approved. As we walk confidently in that approval, we are far less likely to sin against the One who loves and approves us. God’s approval molds our identity to His character and will. We no longer try to blend in with those who are ‘cool’ or ‘popular’; we let our identities, our values, and our personalities fall in line with the blessed approval of the God who bought us. And in so doing, we become like Him.

Dear girl, not everyone will like you. And that’s okay.

If you are seeking God and His approval, you will walk in such a way that you need not fear offending those around you. You will walk in the fruits of the Spirit – love, kindness, self-control – that make us more ‘likeable’ in general. But you will not be bound to people-pleasing because you will have pleased the One whose opinion truly matters.

So instead of bending over backwards for popular opinion, twisting into a pretzel in an effort to be liked, rest in the approval of the One who loves you more. Chasing people is unrewarding; chasing God is always secure.

“Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” (1 Thess. 2:4 NLT)

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Other Posts by Phylicia:

Dear Girl, A Good Man Will Still Want You

When Pure Girls Marry: Countering the Christian Fear of Sex

You are Allowed to Love Him

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