People Pleasing, Pickpockets, And Peace

“…they hunted for him…”

Depression has many associates. It is a collaborative group effort to bring a soul down. The combination of team members will look different for each soul.

One of my depression associates is “People Pleasing.” She brings an entire team of her own to unite for the cause. This sub-team usually includes Work Harder, Try Harder, Don’t Disappoint, and Prove Yourself. Each creates a facade that over exaggerates the importance of how others view you.

People Pleasing is a pickpocket. When you feel well prepared and all your pockets are full, she cunningly brushes by you and empties all you have. Three blocks later, you realize you have been robbed, and your peace has evaporated with it.

Peace is my word for the year and in the devotional “3 Ways To Attain Peace”, the third way to acquire peace involved making sure we follow Christ. Have you ever wondered if Jesus was tempted with pleasing people?

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came to do.” Mark 1:35-38, NRSV.

Full Pockets

Jesus was God, but as a human, he needed to maintain his peace too. Think of God as our personal tailor. He created us and spending time with our creator reassures us of Who made us, how we are made, and our purpose in life. Focus time with God reassures, strengthens, and enlightens us.

Jesus was intentional about pulling away to spend time alone with God. Luke 5:16 tells us he did this often. In the above situation, he was determined to choose a place where he would be undisturbed. Phone set on airplane mode, Jesus found a place that would be difficult for anyone to find him.

Jesus was filling every pocket with the goodness of his heavenly Father. Spending time with his personal Tailor allowed for flaps with buttons to be sewn on, protecting more than his peace from being robbed but also to keep his purpose intact. By getting up in the morning before anyone else was awake and finding a solitary place to be with God the Father, he set the tone for his day.

When they finally found him, Jesus responded with, “Of course. It was right of you to find me. We must meet the needs of these people. We don’t want to disappoint them. Our ratings might go down. I should have already been out there waiting and available. After all, I am God, and I knew they were coming.”

No! His answer was clear and precise. Jesus knew that pleasing the people who sought him nor pleasing the disciples were NOT his purpose at this moment. It was time to move on.

Without hesitation, Jesus was unaffected by the pressure of people-pleasing. Polly Pick Pocket may have brushed by him, but his purpose was not shaken. He moved on, looking towards the goal in front of him rather than worrying about the people he would leave behind and what they would think of him.

Knowing our purpose will affect our peace and both are sewn into the fabric of our lives when we spend adequate time alone with God. Realizing our purpose enables us to experience the same Christ-like confidence and keep our focus on Christ, permitting him to dominate the spaces of our mind rather than worrying what others may think or whether we will disappoint someone.

People In Our Pockets

There are three types of people in this world – the ones we know well and who know us, the ones we somewhat know and they somewhat know us, and the ones we don’t know and they don’t know us. All three can be people-pleaser-pick-pockets.

The disciples in the above scenario are the closer inner group. They wake up and find Jesus gone with the crowds outside wanting to see him. Simon could have told everyone Jesus was not available at this time. He could have offered for him and the other disciples to pray and speak with them until Jesus returned. But he succumbed to the influence of people-pleasing, ignored the fact there might be purpose in the Messiah’s unavailability, and went looking for him.

It was all hands on deck, call 911, and get the hound dogs out on the search for Jesus. The Amplified Version says they “searched anxiously.” During their frantic search, it is easy to imagine how they probably built a case in their mind of the urgency, importance, and validity of their disruption. An easy pickpocket target, the disciple’s peace had dissolved with anxiety and a simulated purpose filling its space.

“Everyone is searching for you,” they confess their excuse for the interruption. Jesus ignores the plea and redirects their attention to the more pressing purpose at that moment.

People we know can pickpocket our peace, but everyone will if we make pleasing them a primary purpose in life. People-pleasing is a cavernous hole that demands our attention and drains our energy. It will never be enough, no matter how much time and effort we dedicate to filling the hole.

We need to realize people pleasers can be anyone in our lives, putting our purpose and peace continually at risk. As our awareness grows, so must our ability to respond.

Pocket Covers

Boundaries are in the top three areas most requested for me to help with as a Life and Leadership Coach. Setting boundaries gives people a healthy place in our lives which can be a challenge but is certainly doable. Christ sets a great example of where we can begin.

Jesus answered their urgent plea, “let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came to do.”

If you need time alone for yourself to refuel for you to have more to give, that is your purpose at that moment. If you need to spend quality time with your family, that is your purpose at that moment. If God has called you to reach out to a neighbor, write a book, go back to school, or start serving at your church, then start planning and protecting your time until you have fulfilled that purpose.

Jesus was grounded in his purpose because he chose to spend time uninterrupted and alone with God. His example models for us two ways we can keep our pockets covered, setting the boundaries that will protect our peace when it comes to people-pleasing:

  1. We need to spend time alone with God.

  2. We need to know our purpose.

The more we spend time with God and solidify our purpose, we will shed our need to people-please. The pockets of our soul will be securely covered by the grace of God and his peace will result rather than feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and robbed.

Meditate: Jesus is my peace.

Reflect: How much time does people-pleasing take from you? Who are the people in unhealthy ways you try to please in your life? What is one new thing you could do in the way you spend time with God that will help you combat people-pleasing? How can you realize and protect your purposes better?

Deeper: Proverbs 3:13-26-ESV, Jeremiah 29:11-14, Galatians 1:6-10, Philippians 3:13-16

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(Bible References: NRSV – New Revised Standard Version)

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