I hate to admit it, but people pleasing is an addiction. The truth is, when people call me, depend on me, seek me out to do something my ego is fed and my image is enhanced. It provides a temporary high. And just like the temporary high from a batch of brownies or a chemical enhancement, this temporary high ends with a crash leaving me craving even more.
For years I convinced myself it was an element of servanthood – I was putting others before myself. That’s what Scripture says so I had to say ‘yes’ to every call. Right?
As I committed to a closer relationship with Christ and dug deeper into His Word I found that was slightly out of context.
Jesus was always in demand, everyone wanted His attention. Jesus did not always say ‘yes’ to everyone. While there are many stories, let’s look at one in John 5, verses 1-9. Many are waiting by the Pool of Bethesda to be healed. Jesus certainly could have healed every single person there with just a word. But, instead, he healed one.
Jesus also taught being busy was not more important than time with the Lord. Look at the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10. Martha busies herself with preparations while Mary sits at Jesus feet, listening to all he has to say. Martha asks Jesus to get on to Mary and tell her to get up and help. Jesus reminds her Mary is doing what is most important, that at that moment, all of Martha’s busy work is less important than the one thing Mary is doing.
Ouch! While there times I need to be busy, I must accept there are times I am slow down. I can’t hear God’s still small voice if I am busy doing a dozen other things.
Scripture also tells a story of our own preparedness and that we each have responsibilities. Take a look at Matthew 25. There are 10 virgins, waiting for the bridgegroom to call. The time has come to go out to meet him. Five of the 10 are prepared with lamps full of oil, five did not fill their lamps and as they were walking needed them filled. When the asked the 5 who were prepared to give them oil, these responded with ‘no, then I may not have enough for myself’. The 5 unprepared had to seek their own oil and missed the banquet. Yes, the 5 could have given up their oil, but why? All had the same opportunity to prepare. Five chose not to make the meeting of the bridegroom a priority, and missed out. You could also look at this in another light: stewardship. Each was given the responsibility of their own lamp – five took care of the chore assigned them, five did not.
Setting priorities like stopping all the activity to sit at Jesus feet, or choosing to provide for my family by not sharing my oil is hard!!! These are tough choices. And many times we allow ‘circumstances’ to occur so we can declare “I had no choice”…and there may be times that is true. But if you look seriously at you daily actions you will find many choices you made, even if unconsciously.
Setting priorities leads to a lot of “what if” questions.
- What if I turn down this big project at work? I will be spending more time at home but I may lose out on the next promotion.
- What if I limit my children’s sports activities to a couple nights a week instead of 5? What if they are then not as good as the other kids on the team?
- What if I don’t accept that committee appointment?
- What if?
Life is filled with what ifs. We must each decide what is most important. By saying YES to one thing, we are saying NO something else. OR perhaps by saying NO to one thing, we are saying YES to something else.
No, I will not serve as head of the HOA this year – Yes, I will spend those evenings of heated discussed instead with my family
Yes, I will teach that Sunday School class – No, I cannot sit in the sanctuary with my husband at that time
Choices. We have to make them. Some are not life changers: chocolate or vanilla cupcake, coke or pepsi, hamburger or hot dog. We make choices all day long. Do I open my eyes now? Do I get out of bed? Do I go to work? What do I wear?
- you chose not to go to work
- you decided not to put gas in the car when it was so near empty
- you didn’t pay the electric bill
And on and on it goes. I try not to answer right away when asked to do something, responding, “may I check my calendar and family, then get back with you”. What if I miss out on that big event? What if I miss out on the little events God has provided for me?
Decisions, decisions, decisions.