Hi. My name is Tracey and I’m a people pleaser.
I don’t need everyone to like me, I just need everyone to be alright.
I don’t need to be popular or at the center of a conversation, I just need everyone to keep the peace and get along.
I want people to be well and free. I want to be well and free!
The difficulty with being a recovering people pleaser is that there is some rightness wrapped up in there that can’t be altogether abandoned. There is some good that comes with wanting people to be well.
However, what I know is that the desire for wanting everyone to be alright can become an idol. I (all too willingly) sacrifice my own emotional health and the health & development of others on its altars in the name of keeping the peace.
The irony of worshipping this idol is that I also know (all too well) that just because there is no commotion, no crap hitting the fan, doesn’t mean everything and everyone is alright!
Furthermore, I’m coming to see the value in the tension, in the conflict, in the disruption. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like it at all. I’d rather avoid the awkward conversation or swerve to miss the punch to the gut. BUT I recognize that there’s a lot of learning and growing that happens in the confrontation and the disruptions. No one chooses to have their plans hijacked or their lives thrown into a tailspin. But for better or for worse, we learn by doing. And if I have any hope of learning and growing in any capacity in my life, I’ve got to be okay with people not being pleased sometimes.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve landed a job that is THE crucible for me and my people pleasing ways. When you are a leader of leaders, next to never is everyone alright. Next to never is everyone keeping the peace. There is always a conflict to manage. There is always a sensitive relationship to be mindful of. (Being an executive pastor is practically People Pleasing Rehab for me!)
People pleasing can dress itself up like compassion. It also does a pretty good peacemaker impression.
But at the end of the day, our motivation tells us the truth of the matter. Am I avoiding the hard, but right thing? What could be gained by letting this conflict play out? What’s really at stake here?
I don’t want to miss the opportunity to invest in someone because it’s easier or more comfortable not to. I don’t want to hinder ministry and discipleship in order to keep the (faux) peace.
I don’t want to worship a god who keeps me as anxious as a sheepdog always trying to count the flock and keep them all peaceably moving in the same direction with their heads down.
That’s not leadership and it certainly isn’t love.