When the religious leaders demanded Jesus to tell them on whose authority he accomplished miracles and taught the people, Jesus responded with a question of his own to them. His question revealed the perils of living as people-pleasers. Jesus responded to the leaders’ demand by asking them about John the Baptist, whether they believed that he was from heaven or from men. He put them in a dilemma with this question, because they had rejected John and had not followed him. So they couldn’t say that he was from heaven, but because they also were people-pleasers, they hesitated to say that he was from men, because the people considered John to have been a prophet. Therefore, they lied and hid behind faux ignorance. They had an opinion, which they had revealed by their previous rejection of John and current rejection of Jesus, but they refused to reveal their opinion out of fear of the people’s reaction to them.
Their response to Jesus reveals the danger of living to please other people rather than living according to what you believe is true. When you live in that manner, you actually relinquish the power of living a life of conviction to the changing opinions of other people. The prophet Micah gave to us a superior manner to live by. In Micah 6:8, he declared that God wants us to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God. This type of life was in contrast to how the religious leaders lived; they were neither just, kind or humble. Rather, they were doing whatever it took for them to preserve their positions of power and affluence. When we do justice, love kindness and walking humbly with God, we will encounter those who disagree and criticize, but we will also live in community with those who admire our courage to live in an authentic manner. We can also live free of worry of loss of position or affluence, because those things were never the focus of our lives. Instead of relinquishing our power to the most vocal crowd, we increase in power and influence ourselves.
2 thoughts on “Avoiding People Pleasing”
Great post, Dave. I have shared John 12:40 many times–loving the favor of men more than the favor of God. The so called Christian academic community is plagued by this. A hunger to please men.
Thank you! Yes, I think it is a subtle problem that many of us need to watch out for, because the desire to fit in with society and avoid criticism is so strong. Then we don’t realize the price we are paying.