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The Snare of People-Pleasing

We are continuing our series about ways that controlling people try to control others.  You can check out the posts about control and boundaries, the trying to manipulate others with guilt, and playing the martyr from earlier in the week.  Today’s topic is how we sometimes try to manipulate others and maintain control by being  people-pleasers.

Is “peace” at any cost a good thing?  Is it really peace?

PEOPLE PLEASING

Being a “People-Pleaser” SOUNDS like a virtue, right?    I mean, isn’t it great to try to make everyone be happy with you and not have people angry at you?  The Bible says we are supposed to live in peace as far as it depends on us, after all.  It is easy for people-pleasers to take certain scriptures and believe that what we are doing is godly. But often, we have a very warped definition of love and we trust self more than God and feel we have to be “in charge,” not understanding God’s sovereignty and not submitting fully to Christ as Master.

Here is a list (from Vickie Champion – a psychologist/life coach) of attributes of people pleasers. I have not researched her methods and approach.  So I am not endorsing her counseling techniques, but this list may be helpful.

Here are 52 Ways to Recognize the Chronic, Ingrained People Pleaser…

The perpetual people pleaser…

1   Always avoid conflicts or even disagreements.

2   Makes it a habit to say yes when he or she wants to say no.

3   Constantly worries about hurting others’ feelings.

4   Has no idea what their dreams or goals are.

5   Feels they are never “good” enough.

6   Would rather be nice and perfect than happy.

7   Functions totally from “shoulds.”

8   Assures they always do more than their share.

9   Rarely makes decisions, putting it off on anyone else to do it.

10  Is baffled by the concept, take it easy and relax.

11  Confuses being “needed” with being “loved.”

12  Has a never-ending time management problem.

13  Avoids giving themselves credit for anything.

14  Makes it a practice to please strangers and neglect loved ones.

15  Easily attracts people who need to be rescued and consoled.

16  Strongly believes they need to “do” something to be “loved” or even “accepted.”

17  Is very insecure about their abilities, knowledge or just about anything they do.

18  Routinely operates on auto pilot.

19  Jumps to volunteer, especially for jobs that no one else will do.

20  Feels exhausted from always trying to be “perfect.”

21  Has a huge fear of letting their friends, family and even strangers down.

22  Almost always feel undeserving.

23  Thinks nothing of telling lies to not rock the boat.

24  Overpromises.

25  Constantly seeks approval from others, but could care less about their own opinions.

26  Overapologizes.

27  Wastes time with people who really don’t care or consider their needs.

28  Think they are solely responsible for others’ happiness.

29  Are scared to death of being called selfish, even for an instant.

30  Rarely, if ever, asks for help or accepts help.

31  Constantly suppresses anger, fearing rejection.

32  Would much rather be nice than be real.

33  Has no desire to listen and follow their intuition.

34  Continuously holds back from saying what they really think and feel.

35  Often feels trapped.

36  Are scared to death of being wrong or taking any kind of risk.

37  Reduces their own anxiety by focusing on others’ needs.

38  Comes unglued easily when under pressure.

39  Has plenty of regrets.

40  Tries to provide and control everything in the relationship without considering their own feelings and needs.

41 Are willing to bend over backwards to make unhappy, self-centered, controlling people feel better about themselves.

42  Becomes paralyzed with little nightmares we make up about “if we said and did this, they will say and do that.”

43  Is extremely critical of themselves.

44  Has a really hard time accepting kindness from others.

45  Has poor problem-solving skills.

46  Is unable to direct or supervise others.

47  Feels guilty about not accomplishing enough or not being able to make everyone happy.

48  Runs on the praise and appreciation of other people.

49  Seldom, if ever, expresses an opinion of their own.

50  Is secretly terrified of being “found out” that they are not as good as they appear to others.

51  Displays a bland personality. They don’t want to appear interesting, unique, or challenging. Nope, too risky.

52  Wonders why everyone seems to take advantage of them and why they get little respect?

WAS I EVER A PEOPLE-PLEASER?

YEP!!!!!!!!!!  I sure was.  This mindset was another core part of my sinful heart and a big part of why I was controlling and disrespectful.  That probably seems contradictory that a people-pleaser would be a controlling and disrespectful wife.  But I was more concerned about pleasing strangers and people outside of my family than my husband.  I didn’t want my husband to be mad at me – EVER.  But I also didn’t realize that he actually was upset with me a lot because he didn’t say how he felt – he was so distant.

I was ALWAYS worried about what other people thought and would play conflicts over and over every waking moment for weeks and months trying to decide what I could have/should have said.

I thought if I was NICE enough and kind enough that I could keep people from being mad at me.  (Have you ever worked in a retail pharmacy?  Yeah.  This strategy got me some customer service awards, but it doesn’t work on everyone!  Some people are going to be angry at me.  It won’t matter what I do.  Well, if I gave them drugs illegally, they might be happy with me, but then I will have other problems!)

I was terrified of conflict. Lots, but not all, of the things on this list applied to me.

PEOPLE-PLEASING = IDOLATRY!!!!!

People pleasing is an insidious form of idolatry, unfortunately – and it brings a whole host of other sins along with it – as idolatry always does!  I white wash it and try to believe that my motives are pure – and that it is good not to ever have someone be upset with me.  But my true motives are not pure at all.  What I am really doing is:

  • putting the approval of others above the approval of God (and often above the approval of my husband).  This is idolatry!
  • fearing men (people) rather than fearing God in a proper, respectful, healthy way. I am allowing others to control me instead of making Christ truly Lord and Master.
  • attempting to have peace on a false premise (doing anything to prevent others from being upset) instead of on the truth of God’s Word (love God, love others).
  • I fear the anger of other people and base my behavior on avoiding the possibility of some person’s anger instead of living to honor God.
  • BEING DISHONEST.  I am not saying how I feel.  I am not saying what I want. I   am not saying what I don’t want and then I am resentful of other people for “making” me do what I don’t want to do.  Then I can’t forgive them for my feeling obligated to do things for them and am tied up with the sin of unforgiveness, too!  WHEW!
  • Unforgiveness may seem small – but it is a huge sin!  The Bible teaches that even allowing anger/resentment to continue over one night gives the enemy a foothold.  Imagine what happens when unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment take deep root and grow unchecked for YEARS!
  • avoiding saying “no” because I am not strong enough to say no to things I don’t want to do.  I am allowing others to be responsible for me instead of being responsible for myself before God.  That is poor stewardship and it won’t wash before our holy God!  He will hold me accountable for my own behavior, sins and actions.  He will hold others accountable for theirs.
  • instead of being arrogantly prideful – I am prideful in a false-humility kind of way.  I put myself down and feel unworthy and speak terrible things about myself in my mind and to others.  I do not believe God’s Word about who I am in Christ.  I do not acknowledge  that I am made in the image of God and am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I do not acknowledge that my purpose in life is to glorify God.  I do not allow God’s power to flood my soul and fill me to empower me to be the godly woman God has designed me to be.  I stay in a prison of my own making, feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in my unworthiness, wasting my true potential, burying my talents in the dirt.  I don’t really believe I am a daughter of the King,  and I go voluntarily sit in the dungeon instead of at the King’s table.
  •  I have not fully yielded my heart to Christ as LORD.
  • REFUSING TO HAVE FAITH IN GOD.
  • giving up my influence authority in my marriage by refusing to speak up about my desires, my needs, my wants and my perspective.  My marriage and family suffer when I don’t know my mind, don’t know my feelings, don’t know my desires and don’t share my important perspective.  How can my husband lead properly if I am not fulfilling my responsibilities and providing important information for him to make the best decisions?
  • refusing to have any dreams.   I do need to die to myself and live for Christ.  But when I am living for Christ, He will give me dreams, desires, goals and His will.  I will be full of life, zeal, purpose, joy, peace, love and all the fruit of the Spirit.
  • setting a very negative emotional/spiritual temperature for the family.  Everyone is affected by my depressed mood, my negativity, my hopelessness, my anxiety, my fear, my worry and my lack of God’s presence.
  • setting an ungodly example of femininity and marriage for my children.
  • idolizing “being nice” instead of loving God and loving people.
  • my motives are fear based, not love based.
  • avoiding obeying God’s Word about how to handle conflict  when I am sinned against. Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:16-18. I am to go to the person who sinned against me (NOT to other people in gossip!) and tell them their sin (gently, humbly, respectfully, lovingly and only after I have repented of any sin in my life).  If they do not listen, I am to take another believer with me as a witness and confront them gently, respectfully and lovingly – and if they will not listen to two people, the Bible says they are to go before the church and if they will not repent, they are to be shunned.  I don’t know many churches that actually practice church discipline anymore.  But, we can do the first few steps.  Unfortunately, most believers today think it isn’t “nice” or isn’t “Christlike” to confront people about sin.  NOT SO!  Love DOES confront sin.  Love does not allow sin to go on and on wounding everyone.  Yes, it is hard!  Yes, it is uncomfortable.  But it is our responsibility to confront sin AFTER we have confronted and repented of ALL sin in our own life first!

WASN’T JESUS “NICE”?

We tend to think that Jesus was a “nice” pushover and a wimp.  We do that because He allowed Himself to be tortured and crucified for us – which actually was an act of great strength, sacrifice and submission to God and not at all the act of a coward, pushover or wimp.  But look at the way He handled Himself with those who opposed God.  He was not “nice.”  He was to the point.  He was strong.  He was love.  He had endless courage.  He stood up for holiness.  He threw tables over in the temple to defend His Father’s house as a house of prayer.  He rebuked people when they were sinning and arrogant about it.  He rebuked self-righteousness and hypocrisy.  He was not “nice” and trying to make everyone like Him at all costs.  He didn’t shrink back from speaking the truth.  He wasn’t afraid to say what He believed and He didn’t say “yes” when he wanted to say “no.”  He never sinned in His anger.  But He did have anger.  He did confront when necessary.  He did not cower from standing for the truth and what was right.

And look at how He will come in the clouds when He returns as the triumphant King of kings and Lord of lords.  He will be on a white horse with a sword coming from His mouth and He will kill all of His enemies with one Word from His mouth.

He is a holy God.  He is just.  He is righteous.  He is ALL-POWERFUL.  He is sovereign.  He does not tolerate sin.  And at the same time, He is love.  He is mercy and grace.  What an incredible combination of strength, power and love.

Being “nice” is really not part of being Christlike.  It is culturally acceptable.  But you can be “nice” to someone as you seethe with resentment.  You can be “nice” as you stew about how much you hate them or hate what you are doing for them.  Being nice does not = being godly.  And I don’t believe that being “nice” has anything to do with what Christ has commanded us to do. The two greatest commandments are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength and we are to love others with God’s love. I John 4 says we cannot hate people and love God. And Jesus says in John 14:22-24 that anyone who loves Him will obey Him – in everything.

HOW TO SAY “NO.”

If someone is using guilt on you, THE WORST thing you can do is give the REASONS WHY you can’t do something.  They will almost always shoot down any reason and explain why that is not valid.  If you truly don’t want to do something, simply say, “I’m so sorry, I can’t.” And when they ask why, you just continue to say, “I can’t.”  Eventually, they will relent!

But it is also ok to just say

  • No, thanks!
  • I am not going to be able to do that.
  • Let me check with my husband first (if it is someone else asking for your time, money or efforts).

Remember – don’t get into a long drawn out debate or discussion with a controlling, emotional manipulator!  A brief answer of “no” that is pleasant and polite will suffice.  Then the other person is responsible for his/her reaction and emotions.

You cannot MAKE them be angry.  They choose to be angry or to hang on to anger.  That is their choice.  You do what is right in God’s eyes, and let other people handle their emotions.  Apologize if/when you sin against others, and try to live in peace.  But you are not responsible to make other people not angry or make them happy.  That is their own responsibility!

FREEDOM FROM PEOPLE-PLEASING

To be free from this idol.  I have to rip the idol out by the roots and be sure I am building only on the foundation of Christ and His Word.  I must build my life on His truth alone.  I completely repent of every sin.  I must face every fear and combat it with God’s truth, discarding all the lies.  I have to study God’s BIGNESS and sovereignty.  I must study how small I truly am.  I must see His power and my weakness.  He must become MORE and I must become less.  I totally yield my heart to His.  I give up my will for His.  I die to myself.  I live for Him as a living sacrifice every day.  I decide to fear God much, much more than I fear any person.  I decide to desire God’s approval WAY above any human’s approval.  And I decide to obey God’s Word and to abide in Him daily and feast on His Word and ask Him to fill me with His power to be the woman, wife and mother He desires me to be.

 

There is so much reason for HOPE!  Jesus is able to deliver us from the prison of being a people pleaser, or from being a martyr, or from being filled with worldly sorrow and guilt – from any sin.  And He is able to give us a life of joy, love, peace, patience and all the abundant spiritual riches of heaven!

91 thoughts on “The Snare of People-Pleasing

  1. Thank you SO much! This blog was written and directed to me. Now I know the truth & now I need to apply it. I never knew being a people-pleaser was a sin. Reading the list from Vickie was convicting & hurtful. Thanks for giving ways of how NOT to be a person pleaser & how to say NO! I always thought I made people angry.

  2. Sadly, I grew up being that type of person. Many times I would find myself crying because the “real me” wanted to come out so badly!! But I was afraid the people around me would be disappointed in me. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to change this little by little. It’s hard to let go of it and face possible rejection when acceptance means so much………..

    1. Sarah, It is hard! That is why I think the only way to do it is from a position of being totally accepted by Jesus through His death for you.

      Then you can desire His approval and be unshaken when people don’t accept us. We can want unity with others and love and acceptance. But if they are unable or unwilling to give us what we want and need, we are safe and secure in Christ. He meets our every need! 🙂

      Sent from my iPhone

    2. I can really relate- Overcoming this people-playing snare just isn’t an overnight fix, and the real me inside is so scared of rejection. This has severely impacted my prayer life, my “alone time” with God… My husband loves God but he doesn’t have a very active devotional life, and I’m the total opposite- religious OCD just about (a works-based, compulsive, people-pleasing attitude toward God to control Him so He’ll love me and not reject me basically), and I really can only overcome this by spending lots of real, quality time with God to get in touch with my real heart, often crying my eyes out and releasing a lot of past hurts and allowing Abba to just love me. My sweet hubby gets frustrated that I am so fear-based both toward him and toward God, yet he wants SO MUCH of my time, like ALL my waking hours… I’m people-pleasing toward him because I hear his voice louder than my own and louder than God’s, so my relationships with myself and with God suffer… I make my husband the problem, when the reality is that the issues are in ME. I know God is at work and that everything will get better (and it already has- HUGELY- thanks in part to the very helpful blogs about wifely submission out there). I just wanted to get that off my chest and ask for prayer. Know that I am praying for the growing, hurting, changing, God-seeking wives out there. God bless you all.

      1. HL,

        This post barely scratches the surface of people pleasing. It could easily be a whole book!

        It is going to take some time as God exposes each layer of sin and idolatry to see it and repent and make your whole goal just pleasing Christ. Then you will get disappointed in someone and realize that there are more layers to tear out and repent of and to refocus on Christ.

        Focusing on your depravity – how sinful you are on your own, and God’s sovereignty and how offensive idolatry is to God are the places I had to start.

        Lord,
        I pray for this precious wife, that You might convict her of every sin, that she might have godly sorrow and true repentance and that You might empower her to die to self and live as a living sacrifice to You. Holding nothing back. Help her to see her idols. Help her to grieve over them as You do. Cleanse her of her sin and fill her with Your Spirit. Help her realize she can do NOTHING good on her own. The only good things in her life will be 100% Christ’s doing. Help her see how small, weak, Impotent and powerless she is and how omnipotent, mighty, sovereign and holy You are.

        Let her worship you alone and give herself fully to You in total submission, desiring You far above all else in this life.

        In the Name and power of Christ,
        Amen!

        Thank you for praying for our sisters in Christ! God is working mightily in so many lives!!!

  3. I decided to change recently and do more for my husband and children. The result was that I now have 19 less friends. This is a very hard thing to deal with, but ultimately it is worth it. I have figured out that a lot of times I was a “friend” when I was needed. Only took 39 years to figure it out. Much prayer has been happening and I am praying for all who are also going thru this transformation.

    1. Brandie,

      I also backed WAY, WAY away from friends and extended family as I learned to respect my husband more, leave others and cleave to him. It has actually resulted in a lot more peace! And more intimacy for my husband and me. I do have a few very strong, godly friends. But I keep my main focus on my husband and children. To me, it is much healthier that way!!!!

      Thanks for the insightful comments – I do think this is sometimes an important, and painful, step in this process. And thank you for praying for the other women who are on this journey together! We ALL need it! 🙂

  4. My ex-wife concluded from some counseling and book reading that she was a people pleaser. Her chosen remedy was to stop any pretense of seeking to please me in particular. Never quite understood that. Especially since the correct remedy would be to focus on pleasing God, and that would necessarily have yielded fruit that would have pleased me too.

    1. That makes me so sad! Yes – the proper remedy would be to seek God first and His will above everything and desire to please Him. Seeking to obey, honor and please God leads to healthy marriages. You are in my prayers!

      1. I’m doing ok. I’m conducting a sort of Irish wake for the marriage by spending the night in the hotel where we spent our wedding night. Tomorrow (later today) I’ll spend the morning with a couple who helped mentor us the year before we were married and for a few years after; I’ll re-visit the campus where we met, perhaps even the very room; and at t 3:00, the time of her re-wedding, I’m going to try to be at the church where we were married, praying. Then I’ll drive away from this town and, hopefully, leave the marriage behind in a healthy way.

        Right now, I think the kids, or at least some of them, are struggling more than I am. My oldest posted on his Facebook page today (Friday), as he was driving down for the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner: “Worst day ever!”

        Thank you for the prayers. God has definitely given more peace than I expected now that the day is here.

        1. Lord,
          We lift up David and his family to You.
          I pray that Your love might be more tangible at this moment than ever before. Wrap Your arms around David and his children. Let them know they are not forgotten or abandoned by You. Let them walk in Your supernatural peace, freedom, light, hope, faith and joy. Heal them. Bind their wounds. Lift up their heads and let them look around and see that You have incredible plans for them. Give them a sense of wonder, awe and anticipation of what You will do in this new chapter. Bring great glory to Yourself in this family. Let them cling to You and desire You more than anything else in this life.

          In the Name and power of Christ,
          Amen!

        2. David,
          Would you be ok with me re-posting some of your first few comments from September. I had taken them down in case they might be seen and cause a problem. They are really helpful. But I respect whatever you prefer.
          How are you and your children?

          1. April: Yes, that would be fine. I hope they help.

            My three boys are all unhappy, in varying degrees. They participated in the wedding as groomsmen, but they are all pretty grim in the wedding photos. It has affected my oldest the most dramatically, because he was the closest to her. She was back from her honeymoon for Thanksgiving, but he spent very little time with her that weekend and a lot of time with me — pretty much the opposite of what he would normally do. The middle son left town to go back to college pretty much as soon as the wedding was over; his way of dealing with it is to keep his distance. The youngest simply continues the “don’t care” attitude he already had anyway. Our daughter has the most at stake and is under the most stress, I think. She has been having high blood pressure and fainting spells for the last month. She spent 2+ days in the hospital last week for cardiac tests, but everything came back negative. I suspect it’s the stress. She’s not happy about moving, but feels that she has to. And somehow, I think their mom doesn’t see any of it, or doesn’t see the connection.

            Gonna try to make Christmas good for them. It will be the last time they can all be at both houses on Christmas Day. Prayers appreciated, as always.

          2. David,

            Wow! I am definitely very concerned about your daughter. 🙁 Has this ever happened before with her?

            Lord, We lift up David and his children to You. You know the deep hurt, pain and brokenness. I pray for wisdom for David to be a godly influence on his children. I pray for strength for all of them and for spiritual and emotional healing, and for physical healing for David’s daughter. I pray for wisdom for their mom to be sensitive to Your Spirit and to minister love and a godly example to them. Draw each of them to Your heart. Bind up their wounds. I trust You to somehow bring something beautiful that honors You from this situation – and pray for Your greatest glory in each of these precious lives involved. In the Name and power of Christ, Amen!

          3. No, my daughter has never had this problem before. As an infant, she had an SVAS heart murmur that is characteristic of kids with her genetic disorder, but it was minor and now is trivial to non-existent. But because of that history, they were being extra cautious with her current symptoms. She’s had two more episodes at school this week. It’s odd because the fainting would make more sense with low blood pressure. She’s to see the cardiologist again next week and they’ll probably put her on a low dose of medication for the high blood pressure. They want her to start exercising and to drink 72 oz of water every day, which is difficult for her. Casting about for explanations other than stress, my ex had her see a doctor next door to her chiropractor who “specializes in holistic medicine, Chinese medicine, and works with imbalances that affect neurology, hormones, thyroid, and physical responses to stress.” He did some “energy testing” on her and “determined” that the issues she is having may be due to fungus and bacterial infection in her abdomen, kidney(s), and possibly her spleen and inner ear. He also “determined” that she possibly has some parasites lowering her immune system and causing the stomach trouble. He’d like to do a finger prick for a spot of blood to do some tests on her DNA (for reasons that were not explained to me), but it wouldn’t be covered by insurance. Apparently one theory is that because she allows our respective dogs to lick her face and hands and then bites her nails, and because the bigger of the two dogs tends to (unintentionally) scratch, she is getting a lot of nasty stuff entering her body from them. He also “determined” that she could still be suffering from some mold issues in her chest from her mother’s apartment, even though there’s been no sign of mold since she cleaned the apartment upon moving in. Sounds like hocus pocus to me. Do you have an opinion on those ideas? Thanks.

          4. David,

            Is she on any meds right now? Sudafed and cold medicine could increase BP and heart rate. Some anti-depressants like Effexor can increase blood pressure. How high is her BP?

            I am familiar with such chiropractors and similar practitioners – and it seems like a systemic yeast infection is often the diagnosis. People who are on antibiotics or are having vaginal yeast infections or thrush definitely may have such an infection. It can be difficult to verify these kinds of diagnoses.

            Does she have IBS or diarrhea/constipation? Stress increases adrenaline and cortisol and can cause a HUGE number of problems and illnesses. And cortisol lowers the immune system which can allow infections, including fungal infections, to grow more easily.

            Right now – my feeling is that she is under tremendous stress. And adrenaline can definitely increase BP and heart rate and cause these kinds of symptoms. I would also want to check any medications she may be taking first.

            Praying for wisdom for the cardiologist and for you and her mom. Praying for peace for her somehow in the storm by God’s power.

            Sent from my iPad

          5. Sarah is doing ok. Her BP has sometimes been in the 150s over 90s range, but more often has been in the 140s, and this week seems to have been in the high 130s, so it seems to have gotten better. The only meds she has been on are estrogen and progesterone. Here pediatric GYN has taken her off one of those (don’t remember which) as of last week, in case it was contributing to the high BP (though she’d been on that med since August and the high BP is recent). She has had a history of constipation and stomach pain. The constipation problem is common in Williams Syndrome kids. Several have recommended that she daily use Benefiber or something similar, and I would have her do that if she were with me all the time, but her mother only has her take it when constipation becomes a problem rather than as a preventative. Her stomach pain was diagnosed back in the summer as being the result of stress. Curiously, as her BP and fainting/dizziness have become a problem, she has had fewer problems with her stomach. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes sense for the physical manifestations of stress to migrate.) She does need to eat healthier, drink more water, and exercise more, but it’s clear to me that the problem is stress (now that any structural problems have been ruled out). She will potentially be under a lot of stress between now and the first week or two of January. Her mother is going to be running like crazy preparing for their move; then they’ll actually move 12/27, which will of course be a major production; then she’ll start her new school 1/2. IF she is treated well at her new school and likes her classmates and teachers, and IF her transition to a new, isolated, rural house with a new step-dad and a new step-brother (who will be there every other week) goes smoothly, then hopefully the BP and fainting issues will tail off. After Christmas Day, I will not see her again until the weekend of MLK Day in January. I hope, for her sake, that she’ll adapt quickly to a new routine in January/February, that she’ll be ok with the one weekend per month visits with me (and frequent video chats, texts, and phone calls in between), and that perhaps the physical distance between her mom and me will reduce the tensions there, so that the end result is more peace for Sarah, even though I’ll pay a cost in access to her. Peace in the storm is a good prayer for us both these next few weeks. Happily, she’ll be with me this weekend and again next weekend through Christmas afternoon, and all three brothers will be here next weekend through Christmas afternoon. I’m hoping it will be a good bonding time creating good memories. Thank you!

          6. David,

            I’m glad to hear it is better. IT’s still high – but much better. I’m sure they took her off estrogen – it can increase the risk of hypertension and cardiac events and strokes.

            She is under an incredible amount of stress. 🙁 I will continue to pray for her. I am glad you will get some time with all of the children soon. And I will definitely pray about peace in the storm. I am trusting God’s sovereignty in this situation and placing you and your family in His hands.

            Thanks for the post! That was wonderful. I think this is a REALLY critical message for wives to hear – as well as Christian single women. I need to focus more on the topic of wives’ expectations of their husbands as spiritual leaders. Thanks for the lead!

            Here’s a video I will be releasing soon – it’s already on Youtube. You are welcome to comment if you would like to on youtube.

            http://youtu.be/CgB9SiV9ZgI

  5. Wow! I always knew I was a people pleaser but to see that list, I am shocked and mad at myself for allowing my people pleasing to get to this degree. I am all 52! Thank you for the advice and I am going to start the long road of trying to get out of this trap I have placed myself in…

  6. This is a great blog! By the way the church I go to does practice Biblical church discipline by bringing people before the church. You should check it out!

    http://www.caicc.net

    Or if you don’t live close to Los Angeles check out our fellowship of churches website to find one near you. They all believe in obeying the Bible and Biblical church discipline

  7. Wow this is good stuff. Thank you, I didn’t realize I was a people pleaser until you suggested I read this post. I fit a lot of what was written. My husband is always telling me to please God and him not others. I’ve been put down so much in the past ( as a child, at school, and my first husband who was not a religious man and others ) that I started saying and doing things that ” pleased” others. My husband is so right, it only matters what God and he thinks. If I concentrate on pleasing them, then nothing else matters ! I will do my best to work on that, putting God and Rick’s opinions first. If I’m right withGod and being submissive to Rick than that’s most important. Thank you for having me look at this post 🙂

    1. Michelle,

      You are very welcome! The other posts that same week 11-3>11-7 are about other forms of control that women often use when they are not close to God. Could be helpful in dealing with your mother or other people.

      Much love to you!!!!

      1. Really like the posts. My mom is also a people pleaser. So with God, my husband and your posts as helps and guides I will be able to move forward without all the worries and concerns I’ve always had. Thank you for replying, I can tell you really care about your bloggers and are a God fearing woman ! You’ve been a blessing. Luv, Michelle
        Ps I’ve been in skirts the past 3 days and will continue 🙂

  8. This is hammering home something that I already recognise in myself. it has helped me come up with practical steps I can take to overhaul this part of my life. Thank you

  9. This post is amazing. Thank you so much for writing this. Can you send me a comment back with some bible verses that might help me with this subject? Thanks so much!

  10. I have been learning about people-pleasing because my husband is one. It is ruining our marriage. He is so concerned about pleasing others, that he puts everyone ahead of me and our marriage.

    I have learned that it is a true addiction – just like drugs, alcohol, shopping, TV, gambling, etc.
    It is a way to hide from one’s insecurities. Like April said, it gives a false-pride. The person focuses so much on being nice and feeling proud of themselves for that, but they avoid the things that make them feel insecure in the first place.
    Notice that avoidance is the common theme of all addictions. It is a way of avoiding one’s problems and weaknesses.

    Since, you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, nothing changes. Therefore, it becomes a vicious cycle. But, all the while, the people-pleaser person is convinced that they are acting in “saintly” ways. Therefore, it contributes to arrogance, yet it is caused from insecurities. Ironic, huh?

    It is destructive to a marriage. I am speaking from the “other” side. I’m not a people pleaser, and I always feel like I’m in FIFTH place (not second, third, or even fourth) because I’m married to one.

    I am dealing with it MUCH better since I decided to depend more on Jesus instead of my husband. However, it causes a LOT of distance between my husband and I. He’s so busy “saving the world” that I just focus my time on other things.

    Just wanted to share my two cents from the “other side”.

    1. Eternally Learning,
      You explained this so very well. Yep. There are many ironies. And exactly – it is an addiction to approval of others as our source of worth. If others like me and aren’t mad at me, I am “good.” I can absolutely convince myself that what I am doing is loving and saintly – and all the while my motives are actually very sinful.

      I appreciate your perspective as the spouse of a people pleaser. It would be very frustrating – I can certainly imagine. You may be able to share what you want – but ultimately, only God can open our eyes and convict us of sin.

      Praying for you both and for God’s greatest glory! 🙂

  11. April, this is really good. God sure gifted you with great communication skills. You are always very succinct and clear on your points. Thank you. This is a helpful one for me to bookmark.

    Praying for you today.

    xx Julie

  12. I’m a little confused about what you said about shunning people who have sinned against you. Does that apply to a separated husband? How am I supposed the handle that situation. My husband continuously sins against me & my daughter am I supposed to shun him? We had been spending some time together the last month, but only when it was convient & he was very distant. We have been separated for 1 1/2. He forced my daughter & I to leave our home & we lives in a dangerous situation for 9 months & now we are living in an apartment inbetween 2 addicts who play music all hours of the night & walk around outside with alcohol & very foul language. My husband know about all of this & his solution was to try to sue me for custody of our daughter. It’s been a really tough time for me & my daughter & this weekend I snapped & I made a big huge mess texting him (many) times everything he is doing hurt us & how he’s better than this & we deserve better than this. I did not tell him these things in a respectful way. I was extremely upset bc I missed my daughter’s 6 bday bc it was his scheduled time to have her & he didn’t even keep her. She stayed with his mother who was extremely abusive to me at the later part of our marriage & when I ask him to stand up for me he said no & told me “you are replaceable she isn’t”. He also threatened to take our daughter from me & give her to his mama to raise. He works a lot & when he has our daughter most of the time his mother keeps her. Our daughter came home one time crying bc she said gma told her I didn’t love her. I have tried the respectful submission to be the best I understand it, but it doesn’t really get me anywhere other than when I get upset he tells me “please be respectful” as he’s treating me as if I don’t exist & don’t matter. I don’t know what to do? Am I supposed to respect & submit to a man I’m not sure has my best interest at heart? He has done so many hurtful & uncaring things to me & put me & my daughter in a very bad position & he doesn’t seem very concerned about it. He used to be a good man & I can’t believe my husband is the one doing this to us. I’m not sure i trust him anymore bc I don’t know what his intentions are. What do I do? How am I supposed to treat him? Do I respect & submit to him or do i tey to stand up for me & my daughter’s best interest sue him for custody so my daughter isn’t being bounces from house to house or spending time with a gma who would tell her that her mother doesn’t love her. I know god hates divorce & I don’t want a divorce, but people keep telling me maybe god hasn’t fixed things bc this is how he wants them to be. That doesn’t sound like god as I understand him to be, but I’m so confused right now I don’t know what I should do?

    1. FireWife,

      Shunning is a discipline method for the church to use to encourage believers to repent and return to God.

      It is not really something that would be effective against unbelievers and it is very rarely practiced in the church today.

      Let’s get one thing clear, I am so sad that people are giving you so much unbiblical counsel. But God doesn’t want anyone to sin and He does not want any marriage to be in turmoil. He doesn’t’ tempt people to sin. He wants everyone to repent and turn from sin to Christ. That is what God’s will is. Yes, He can heal your marriage.

      What is your relationship with Christ?
      What is your husband’s relationship with Christ?

      Why are you separated currently?

      Sending you a huge hug!!!

      Love
      April

      1. I said the “sinner’s prayer” & was baptized when I was 9, but I was saved until 7-4-10 almost 25 years later. I have a deep desire & I try very hard to live a godly life, but it has been a struggle for me. I have a mental illness called cyclothymic disorder, PTSD from childhood mental & physical abuse, several health problems & I’m a newly recovered substance abuser with only 14 months clean. Needless to say I have a whole committee going on inside my head right now & it’s very hard for me to discern God from everything else.

        My husband also said the “sinner’s prayer” when he an adolescent, but strayed away & hasn’t returned to christ yet.

        I am separated because I had been physically & mentally sick for several years which was very hard on my husband. He supported me, cared for me, drove me back & forth to all kinds of doctors trying to get me some help, but I wasn’t getting better. I was admitted to the hospital & when I was discharged he forced me to “go stay at your parents for a couple weeks until you get better”. Two weeks later he said I couldn’t come home which was 1 1/2 years ago.

        After I was discharged from the hospital I went to an outpatient program for 3 months. I was there 3 days & the doctor called me in her office & said my diagnosis of Major Depression was wrong & the medications I had been treated with were making me worse instead of better. She changed my medication from an anti depressant to a mood stabilizer & I have been doing much better ever since, but I’m still struggling with a lot of my old behaviors such as nagging, controlling, manipulating, disrespecting & belittling my husband. I do much better for a month or two then I have one of my bad episodes like I had this past weekend & just end up ruining any progress my husband & I might have made.

        I see a mental health counselor weekly, I go to 2-5 12 step meetings a week & I have a biblical counselor I email & see & email regularly, but I’m still struggling. I’m sorry if that was more information than you wanted to know, but I have quite a history & I’m not sure if that may be contributing to my struggle?

        1. FireWife,

          You do have quite a lot of pain and scars. Goodness, how I wish I could hug your neck!!! I am very glad you are getting all the help you are getting. All of the abuse you have been through and the addictions make your situation much more complicated, that is absolutely true. god is able to heal. He is a mighty God!

          I Pray for healing for you and your husband. It sounds like you are getting a lot of help, I am so glad!

          Does your husband also have any addictions or any mental health issues?

          You may be able to learn on my site about respect and about seeking God wholeheartedly. There may be some things that apply, but you have a pretty complicated situation and I certainly don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction at all. Yes, these other issues will make things more difficult. You will probably do best with one on one mentoring. Are you able to talk with your biblical counselor about these issues?
          What does he/she say?

          I pray for God to give you His wisdom and the resources you need. I can’t wait to see all that He has in store for you!

        2. Firewife,
          As I am sure you know, saying the sinners prayer isn’t magic. It is only she. We truly trust God and give our lives to Him and seek Him and live with Him as Lord that we actually have a relationship with him. I don’t know your husband’s spiritual condition, but I pray for God to draw him to Himself.

    2. Hello, id like to comment to the lady who is seperated. I dont know if anyone else will agree with me on this. You are right, God does hate divorce. Sometimes its unavoidable. I have been divorced. My X abused me, had affairs etc. when he left I didnt file for divorce until he said he was never coming back. We had a 6 yr old and 3 week old both boys. Im here to tell you that im living proof that God has a plan for everyone. If i wouldve stayed in that marriage and never signed the divorce papers, i wouldnt be where i am today. My X was not a believer and i was. I was single for 3 yrs then met my husband whome ive been married to for 14 years and we have two more beautiful children. God sent Rick to me, i am 100% sure of this. He is a very Godly man, a leader in our church, excellent head of home, outstanding husband and daddy. He took my two older boys in as if they were his own, he raised them without financial help from thier dad, while allowing me to stay home to raise them. Ive been home full time sence we married and i also home school. So yes God does hate divorce but he also has a plan for all. I wouldnt have my heaven sent husband/other two kids, if i werent a divorcee.

      1. My husband is a believer, but he isn’t spirit filled. I question whether or not divorce is unavoidable? My marriage was not what it should have been. My husband has been physically & verbally abusive to me on a few occasions but I also have been verbally abusive towards him. God has changed me & my heart & I’m praying for him to change my husband & his heart. I have been asking God for a miracle & I believe he can do it. My prayer is for him to change me, change & save my husband & restore our marriage not to what it was, but to what he always intended it to be. God never gave up on me & I’m not ready to give up on my husband or our marriage. Maybe my marriage isn’t God’s will & if it isn’t I pray he helps me accept that & heal my heart. I don’t know what God’s plan for our marriage is. As of right now I believe God has put it on my heart to let him change me into a 1 Peter 3:1 wife so he can win my husband’s heart. I believe that’s what God is calling me to do in my situation, but who knows if that’s my will or God’s will? I’m asking him for a miracle and I have complete confidence he can do it & I believe he will restore all that we lost if it’s his will to do so.

        1. I pray for your sake all works out. For mine and my boys, divorce was an answered prayer. I would never have known Rick even existed. He is truly heaven sent, everyone who knows my and my X life, knows Rick was Gods plan. He is an amazing christian man, husband, daddy. And…i wouldnt have my two other blessings, me and ricks son and daughter., to go along with my two blessings i already had, my two sons. Nor would i ever have been able to stay home and raise/home school. ( w the X i worked full time and my okdest had to be in daycare/pblc school). Ive been blessed by God beyond words. I wouldnt have this most awsome Godly life w all the blessings and gotten a closer walk with God if id stayed in a broken marriage. ( the X made it hard for me to be Godly because he was not). Also hes remarried and his wife is great !! She has always treated my boys great and been a wonderful ” mom ” to them. So we have been blesed all around and are a product of divorce. I wish you well in your situation, everyones is different. I thank God daily for my rocky past, cuz it got me where ive been for 14 yrs and prayerfully many more to come.

        2. FireWife,

          I will pray with you for healing for you, for your husband and for your marriage. our God is able to do mighty things! I have seen Him do so many miracles here. I Peter 3 is often a necessary step for wives to take as we wait for God to work in our husbands.

          Have you repented to God and to your husband for your sin?

          How is your walk with Christ going?

          Much love
          April

          1. Your story is Inspiring. I love my husband, but I want God’s will more than I want my husband. I’m having a hard time giving up on our marriage because of the love I have for him & the life our daughter is living because of the separation. I’m really confused about what my goals should be & what what God’s trying to do in our lives. I have a lot of fear & I’m having a hard time getting out of god’s way so he can make my life what he wants it to be.

          2. Yes, please let God lead your life !! He has a great plan for you, your husband, your daughter. If that plan is to heal your marriage, thats great. If its to move on so you can live the life he wants for you, step aside and let him go to work. Prayers for answers sent your way.

          3. Yes April, I had a painful night face down in the floor with the Lord last night & today I am feeling very ashamed for my actions & disrespect this weekend. I have also repented to my husband, but my repenting probably means nothing to him. I am the person who finds it easy to apologize, but finds it hard to change. I change for a little while but so far I always end up doing again. If you remember your past article about the wife’s “Demon” I have one of those too. Sometimes I am able to defeat him, but sometimes he wins & I spiral out of control. I know spiritually I’m not doing something right. I would for you to give me some advice or a checklist of things I need to be doing daily to keep that demon a bay until I am more spiritually fit. I have a deep desire & I believe God has called us all to be a 1 Peter 3/ Proverbs 31 wife, but right now I am failing miserably.

          4. FireWife,
            What are your greatest fears? (If you are strong enough right now to talk a out them, if not, please ignore this question!!!)

            What do you understand about God’s sovereignty and who God is?

            What do you believe you have to do to be right with God?

            Is there any sin you are holding on to that you don’t want to let go of?

            Much love
            April

          5. FireWife,

            I wonder if you may want to get your biblical counselor’s ok before we continue any further? I don’t want to create more pain or confusion for you at all.

  13. I haven’t been able to check my emails the last couple days & just received this comment. I also looked in your blog & I can’t find my comment. I’m a little worried that i may have said something you didn’t approve of thst offended someone? I have really been leaning on your website lately because the biblical counselor I see has been on a mission trip in Asia & now in the states for a few more weeks. I have o.ly been able to email him briefly for the last month and a half. I whole heartily trust him & I believe he is a very Godly man. I sent him a link to your blog before I started reading your post to make sure he agreed with your teachings. He did agree with you regarding the post that he read & said he thought it would be very helpful to me.

    1. My fears are that my daughter will spend her childhood in a broken home but some children do ok being rasised that way. I think my greatest fear is that I could never love another man as much as I love my husband. I believe God will send someone to love me one day. I hope it will be my husband & if it isn’t I’m scared I won’t be able to put my love for my husband aside enough to love them? I think i have some Idolatry going too? I really want my daughter to be raised with her parents together as I and my husband were. I also have a bond with my husband through our daughter that I will never be able to have with another man. Because of endometriosis I had an ovary removed 2 years before our daughter was born. I was never suposed to be able to a child & she is our miracle & after I had her i hemoraged really bad & had to have emergency surgery. I was at peace while i was hemorrhaging but no one else was. Most of what happened is a blur but I remember that I could see it in their faces how scared they were. There were 10+ nurses a midwife & a doctor circling my bed & my husband was on his knees holding my left hand with tears pouring down his face. God saved me from death that day & my husband was on his knees praying for him to. I will never be able to have another child & I will never share the bond that my husband & I have. We made a beautiful little girl & brought her In the world together & I will nwver be able to do that with anyone else.

      1. You also ask about my daily walk with the Lord. I wake up praying & I go to bed praying. I spend most of my day talking to him. I also spend a lot of time reading the bible, devotions & your blog. I rarely watch tv I usually spend my free time talking to him & trying to learn more about serving him & serving my husband. I’m not able to spend every single day studying,but the majority of my days I spend a lot of time studying. The days I am not able to are the days I end up making a big mess like I did this weekend.

  14. Amazing blog!!! I love truth! It is rare to find blogs that do not compromise the truth and what is truly required by God. I am so blessed to be in a true uncompromising church that confronts sin in love and in the ways of God! When my sins were confronted, it led me to true brokenness and repentance for the first time ever and I have never been the same! True love saves you from yourself and exposes dangerous ways within us that will hinder our walk with God and hurt others. Thanks for expounding on this people-pleasing way that can lead to sooo many ugly, evil sins, if not dealt with. It can cause one to be a professional deceiver and become lost with who they really are! Trust me, I know. But there is AMAZING hope in Jesus and forgiveness!!
    God bless!

    1. Ashley,
      It is so easy to fall into these ways of thinking! Lots of times, we learned them as children. It can be difficult and painful to unlearn and to replace these ideas with the truth of God, but thankfully by His Spirit’s power He can give us new hearts, new minds and new spirits.

      Praying for wisdom for you! 🙂

    1. Anna,

      That is a great question!

      It depends.

      If your husband asks you to clearly sin, you must refuse, respectfully, in order to obey Christ. (Spiritual Authority talks about this.)

      If he asks you to do something truly dangerous – like eat shrimp that you are allergic to, or sit on top of the car while he’s driving, or lift something you are physically not capable of lifting – you would need to say, “I’d really love to do what you would like me to, but I can’t do that, Honey.”

      If he is not in his right mind, (high on drugs, drunk, or mentally incapacitated for some reason), it is my understanding that you are excused in God’s eyes from submitting.

      Does that help?

      And, you can object and share your concerns if you truly are concerned about something. You can also submit under protest.

      Is there a specific issue you’d like to talk about?

      1. Anna,

        Oh! And – the real key is – are you seeking to please Christ and have His approval, ultimately – or are you seeking your husband’s approval? If you want your husband’s approval more than anything else, or you are terrified for him to be upset with you – more than you want God’s approval – that is a problem.

        1. Sometimes, it may be I’m scared for him to be upset with me. He gets defensive and angry very easily, especially when he’s having difficulties at work, which is often. We haven’t been to visit our folks in over a year because he’s had three jobs in the last year, and we’ve moved states twice in that time. I told him I can’t deal with not seeing our family and friends much longer, and since he could not take time off work, I asked if I could go visit on my own. He told me no because he would worry about me if I’m not here and I should be here to cook, do laundry, etc. He’s upset with me for considering going without him. So I feel like I’m not honoring my family by not visiting for so long, but I’m not honoring him if I defy his wishes and go visit anyway.

          1. Anna,

            My sweet girl… it sounds like you are very homesick to see your family. I can certainly understand that.

            You have shared your strong desire to see your family with him. That is good. How long ago is the last time you mentioned that? How often have you been talking about it?

            He was very sweet to say that he would miss you so much and be worried about you. It sounds like he loves you dearly.

            My gentle suggestion that I would like to whisper to you is this:

            Take your desire before the Lord. Write in a prayer journal how much you miss your family and how you long to see them soon. Write down what your husband said to you when you asked if you could go alone. Present this issue before your God. Tell Him you will honor your husband’s leadership and trust God to make a way for you to see your family if that is His will, and rest in His love, protection, and sovereignty – and wait with joyful expectancy to see what God might do.

            You can say something like, “I am so very grieved that I can’t see my family yet. But I know you are the head of our home and I trust God to lead me through you, Honey. So I will wait and trust that you will find a way for us to see my family and that God will provide at the right time. I will respect your decision even though it is very painful for me. Thank you for loving me and for your leadership. Thank you for wanting to be with me and for loving me so much.”

  15. Dear Peaceful Wife

    Wanted to THANK YOU for all of your hard work and dedication in helping so many and getting the Truth out there – again to help and teach so many. I haven’t been able to do it without you!!!

    1. Tricia,

      I think it is SO cool that God lets me share His treasures. What an honor to get to walk this road with you, my dear sister. I pray that God might continue His good work in you. I am so glad this is a blessing. I long to see you live in the power, freedom, and love of Christ each moment. 🙂

      Much love!

  16. I have always been aware that i was a people pleaser. I knew it made me uncomfortable many times, but i did not know how to break the cycle. I would give in to my mothers desires and wishes even when i dont want to..due to the inconveniece it would cost me and my family.. then when i didnt give in to her wishes, i felt guilty, i felt like she would hold it againt me or even rant about it behind my back.

    Up to now i still dont kow how to respont to or feel about those rants Im sure she does to my siblings and father. Also it seems there is a thin line between self denial/ doing a favor for others and pleasing people. Please elaborate on this if you can. Then i find I am more raw at home with my child and husband, not caring hardly how they think and feel regarding my attitude and behaviour towards them sometimes. then at other times, I am afraid to speak up and say how i feel to my husband cause he too is a people pleaser and would do what i ask but with deep resentment in his heart..which he holds on to for days.

    Satan causes the same issues in every part of the world…as i know you are from the USA and I am from the Belize. A lot of those issues you brought up as characteristics of a people pleaser i.. have them, and i feel so lost some days. I think that characteristic were inhereted some what cause my dad is also a people pleaser. Some days i dont want to do get into the word, i have no desire for it. Yet i know its important.

    I have nver realize my husband has been my idol, until i read your post about that. it was a shock to realiz how much satan has bewitched me to belive a lie for so long in my 7 years of marriage. Its as if I am learning al over again what a godly marriage should be like. I wish I knew this info from a child growing up, how much sorrow it would have saved me during my marriage..but its not too late. Dieing to self really is one of the hardest most difficult battles we would ever have to fight.

    Please pray for me that i set my eyes on Christ and love to be in his presence. I want to be filled with Hs Spirit and find joy and peace in him alone, caz chasing after my idol husband is like chasing after the wind.

    1. Mart,

      I was always a people pleaser, too. It seemed like a good thing, a godly thing, even – in many ways for most of my life. But it is truly destructive.

      Not sure if you have read these already, but maybe these posts will bless you:

      Unhealthy VS Healthy Relationships
      Control and Boundaries
      Using Guilt to Manipulate People
      Why Playing the Martyr Repels People We Love
      Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong
      “Godly Femininity”

      Please search “conflict” and “doormat” on my home page, too. 🙂

      Yes, when you are a people pleaser, you have to choose between two awful things – feeling guilty for upsetting someone, or feeling resentful for doing what they wanted you to do when you didn’t want to do it. Not good. Then we tend to be irritable and tend to lash out at others.

      We do learn people pleasing from our parents many times. But as adults, we can look at what we believe and choose to reject anything that doesn’t line up with God’s Word and we can choose to embrace what God’s Word says.

      I praise God for what He is doing in your life!!! I am praying with you to set your eyes on Christ and to put Him first, He is worthy of all of your devotion, honor, worship, and respect. Much love to you!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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