It’s not a bad thing to want to please others. So when do we cross a line into sinful people-pleasing? Jasmine Holmes puts it succinctly: “It’s when your identity is founded on other people’s perception of you.”
On this episode of Let’s Talk, Jasmine, Jackie, and Melissa all confess to people-pleasing tendencies that can become sin, though each faces different temptations. It’s helpful to understand how your personality and gifting may bring with them a related temptation. Melissa shares that, in her own life, she has learned that it’s possible to be nice to people in a way that isn’t actually kind. The women also discuss how people-pleasing affects parenting, and what they hope for their kids as they grow in independence.
- 6 Ways to Smash the Approval Idol
- How Can I Be a Workplace Servant But Not a Doormat?
- Personality Tests Don’t Excuse Your Sin
- Exchanging Fear for Fear
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Jackie Hill Perry: Welcome to episode four of this season of Let’s Talk, a podcast for women where we seek to apply biblical wisdom to everyday life. Your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday life. My name is Jackie Hill Perry, and I am here with Jasmine Holmes and Melissa Kruger. So far, we’ve talked about our spiritual heroes, we’ve talked about holiness, we’ve talked about fear. Today we’re going to talk about people pleasing. Melissa, would you just so happen to know anything about that?
Melissa Kruger: I really don’t want to have this conversation today, actually.
Jackie Hill Perry: What you got?
Jasmine Holmes: Pleasers, get…
Melissa Kruger: Jasmine laid it all out there about anxiety.
Jasmine Holmes: I did.
Melissa Kruger: And I’m like, “Oh, this one’s going to be painful today.” Today we’re going to talk about people pleasing. And so let me just start with a question. What actually is people pleasing? Because we can shine it up and make it look pretty good and saying, “Hey, I’m just loving my neighbor. I’m just putting their needs before my needs.” Really what is people pleasing and what’s saying, “Oh no, we’ll do lunch where you want to do lunch.” What’s the difference? We can Christianize it, and I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to know how to root it out of my heart.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s when your identity is founded on other people’s perception of you.
Jackie Hill Perry: Ooh. Take that knife and turn it.
Melissa Kruger: Okay, Therapist Jasmine.
Jackie Hill Perry: Why don’t you?
Melissa Kruger: Thanks.
Jackie Hill Perry: Ouch.
Melissa Kruger: You asked a question and you answered it so well.
Jasmine Holmes: Just giving you an answer. But yeah, I mean that’s the difference, because it’s like, “Yes, am I just serving somebody because I want to, because I feel…” There’s a verse in Proverbs. I need to find it. I always mention it. It’s, “Do not refuse good from whom it is due when it is in your power to give it.” I think about that all the time because I’m like, if it’s in my power to give it, I want to do good to other people. If it’s in my power to say yes, I’m going to say yes.
But people pleasing takes that and says, even if it’s not really in my power to say yes, I’m going to try to say yes. If I have to say no, then I’m going to feel bad about myself. I’m going to worry that you don’t like me. And if you don’t like me, that’s going to ruin my whole day. People pleasing is more about wanting to be liked than wanting to be useful, than wanting to serve, I think.
Jackie Hill Perry: Interesting.
Melissa Kruger: That’s good.
Jackie Hill Perry: So you would say that people pleasing is always somehow rooted in people’s perceptions of us.
Jasmine Holmes: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because it’s man pleasing, instead of pleasing God, as opposed to caring about your brother because you care about the Holy God who made that person in their image. You stop at the person and you’re like, “I care about what they think about me because I just do.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah, that’s good.
Jackie Hill Perry: Can either of you think of a time when people pleasing tendencies came out and caused you to act in an unhelpful way? Can you see it in your own life where you chose to please man, rather than even God and you see it come out and you saw the ramifications of that in your life? If you can think of any instances.
Jasmine Holmes: I struggled a lot with it when I was younger. Like when I was in school, my mom would always… She would just be like, “Jasmine, your need to please other people is going to be the death of you.” Because if all my friends jumped off a bridge, I was going to be like, “I mean, they [inaudible] that way [inaudible] won’t do it. Then they’re going to get to the bottom and realize I didn’t do it and they’re going to feel bad. So I’ve got to do it.”
A lot of it I think came from… I grew up in a predominantly White cultural setting, and I was always the only Black girl. I was also a pastor’s kid. So I lived in the fishbowl of just people’s expectations. And so, people’s expectations plus some ethnicity, race baggage, plus… And so, all that stuff just came together into the perfect storm of wanting to be the person that everybody else wanted or needed me to be.
I feel a certain area of dominion over that of my life in recent years. Could be dominion, could also just be that I have learned to deal with it in different ways. So instead of trying to please everybody, I’m like, “Well, I can’t please everybody. So forget you. We just won’t be friends.” That’s not good either. I mean, there’s a spectrum.
Jackie Hill Perry: I think I see it the most in my yeses, especially the ministry stuff. I just realized I was saying yes too much, and it was just like, why are you saying yes? You don’t even want to do it. You know what I mean? You don’t have no desire to you. You probably even barely like them, but you’re just saying yes. It was because I was afraid of the no. I was afraid of not even necessarily letting them down because there’s a huge part of me that does not care what people think.
But there’s also a part of me that wants people to think that I am a flexible servant, if that makes sense. And so, that has gotten me in a lot of trouble with a lot anxiety and just unnecessary busy-ness because those yeses add up.
Melissa Kruger: That’s a good distinction. I often want people to like me. But it could be that we’re people pleasing when we want people to have a certain perception of us too. It might not be that we care for light, but we might care how you view me. That’s a helpful way to add onto it. Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: It makes me think that social media is a people pleasing medium then, It’s all about perception. It’s all about people liking your pictures, liking your feed. You’re curating something that’s going to please other people.
Jackie Hill Perry: Absolutely.
Jasmine Holmes: I never thought of it like that. Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: Even with Twitter, we’re pleasing with our communication, our words, how we crafted the sentence, made something super poignant and clever. Instagram, like you said, like a curated life. I don’t know about Facebook. I’m only on Facebook because my momma is. But you all can tell me about [crosstalk]-
Jasmine Holmes: That’s where my relatives are too. So I don’t know about Facebook. But Facebook is like my cute kid pictures and cute kid stories.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. I don’t really know what’s the thing on there. But…
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. I can think of one time when I realize my people pleasing really rared up in a way that was harmful. And in this way, the world might have thought I was acting really nice, but I don’t think I was being actually kind. I think there’s a difference. I was at a hotel somewhere eating by myself, and I was doing work. It was one of those times you have this breakfast and I was alone. I was like, “Great, I’ll get some work done.”
The chef actually came up to my table. I guess he was walking through and he saw me sitting alone. There weren’t many people in the restaurant anymore. And he started asking me what I was working on. And so, I’m telling him. Of course, it was a book or something to do with Christianity, and he starts… When you do that, you now have opened up a door for a conversation. I was really happy to be alone, but now this conversation is happening and he is asserting all these truth claims.
“Well, I think all religions are really the same. I think it just doesn’t matter which way you get there.” I’m sitting there and I’m like, “I don’t want to make this conversation uncomfortable.” So I was like, “Mm-hmm.” I wasn’t bold. Let me say that. I didn’t agree or assent to what he was saying, but I wasn’t as bold to say, “I don’t agree with you.” I was nice, but kindness would have actually been to disagree with him. But I just didn’t want to not please him. And so, I missed this opportunity that came to my doorstep of someone who wanted to have a spiritual conversation. And I just niced him.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s I think an amazing point because I think in a lot of people’s, I guess, desire to be evangelistic, they maintain this semblance of just niceness instead of pressing a button or pushing a button because they don’t want to go there. And the Bible forces you to go there. And so, it’s interesting how, I guess, being a people pleaser can sometimes make you less courageous, I suppose.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. Yeah, and really, truthfully, I wasn’t loving him. I was loving me. I had to stare that in the face after the conversation and I was like. Thankfully, I confessed and the Lord forgives me and all that. But I just realized that we can have this real notion of niceness or what it looks like to love that’s very worldly. Like the world would have said, “Oh no. You loved him by being accepting of his belief.” And I’m like, “No, I didn’t love him. I didn’t love him, gospel love him. I did what was easier for me.”
Jackie Hill Perry: Self preservation.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. Maybe a lot of people pleasing is self preservation, trying to just put yourself in the best possible scenario to not have to deal with conflict or fallout or displeasure of others. It seems like it’s about others, but it’s really about your comfort.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. How can that people pleasing lead us to sin that maybe looks a little different than what we think it might just be? How have you all seen it lead you down paths and you’re like, “Oh.” It could be because we’re pleasing others, we get ourselves into simple stress and busy-ness, and we’re yelling at our kids. I mean, there are a lot of different ways it can take form. But how can seeking to please others, rather than being a servant of God… Because those are set up as contradictory things in scripture. How can it lead us down paths?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. I mean, I had a mentor when I was late teens, early twenties. I really wanted her to like me. Every time she would give me advice about things in my life or every time she would critique something about me, I try to change it. Whether I agreed or disagreed, I would just try to change it. We went on like that for two, three years. When I got to a place of spiritual health and more maturity, I just stopped. I stopped. Our relationship imploded because on the one hand, I’d understand her perspective because she was like, “Jasmine was this one way for all this time, and now all of a sudden she’s putting up these boundaries that weren’t there before, and that changes the dynamic of a relationship.”
And so, that’s been a recurring theme in my life of growing in maturity, growing in understanding, and then alienating people who were used to me being a different way, more conciliatory. That’s happened a lot to me.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s interesting. Yeah. So it’s almost like you’re a different person.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. I mean, and I understand that. I understand why it looks that way to people, where they’re like, “What happened to you?” I’d have people be like, “You used to be so nice. What’s wrong with you now? You used to be so easygoing, so sweet.” And it’s like, “I’m not not sweet. I’m just saying no.”
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: I’m really trying to process this. I think one way, because I’m trying to diagnose myself, I think one way that people pleasing can manifest in my life that leads to sinfulness and destruction is honestly the perception of intelligence, because I do like knowledge. I do like to learn. I do like information. On top of that, I’m a creative. And so, I like to communicate certain things in a particular way. Hopefully or preferably artistically clever.
And so, I think that’s all about people pleasing though, because it’s like I’m trying to not even gain this knowledge for you, but the knowledge that I’ve gained and how I say it, I want it to be liked by you and affirmed by you and enjoyed by you. I enjoy somebody saying, “I really like the way you put that.” And so, that becomes destructive, one, because I was seeing in my own heart how I can be judgmental of people who may not communicate well. I’ve sat inside of conferences and it’s like, “Why did they say it that way?”
Jasmine Holmes: Oh, I’ve definitely done that too.
Jackie Hill Perry: Or people’s preaching style or having conversations with people and tuning out just because they’re just not engaging. It’s just the conversation seems so shallow and basic that I’m like, “I don’t really want to be here.” So it turns you into, I think, a super loveless, judgmental, egotistical person. These behaviors may not even be obvious to other people. But it’s a heart thing that God still sees as an idol that God can still identify, say, “No, you’re setting up like a little usher off in your heart, ma’am, and you need to tear that thing down.” So I think that’s a fair assessment of myself. Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, it is. I just realized when I said, “Yeah,” I’m like, “I don’t know.”
Jackie Hill Perry: That was really thinking like… Because I don’t want to be out here saying, “I don’t please people.” It’s like, no, I do.
Jasmine Holmes: It looks different sometimes.
Jackie Hill Perry: It’s just different. Yeah. Yeah.
Melissa Kruger: It’s a good question. What am I hoping to point people to? Is it my words, my life? I mean, I’m thinking about social media and all of that, or is it to make them want to be in the word, to want to know God more? Because there should be a right expression because God made you creative. And so, to use your creativity to display the glory of God in beautiful ways. I’m sure there are moments when you’re like, “Yeah. I mean, this feels good to do it in the right way.” I think we know the difference.
But how have you all learned to spot the difference in your life? Or maybe if you have people who can point out the difference of when are you saying yes to things because it’s honoring to God? Sometimes that means it’s hard and you do find yourselves busy and you find yourself stretched too thin. That doesn’t mean it was simple to say yes. But then how do you know the yes was a, “I was just doing that to make somebody else happy”? Yeah. Have you figured out ways to discern that? I think it’s really hard. I mean-
Jasmine Holmes: It is. It is. I mean, I’m in a season of my life where I have said yes to a lot of things, a lot of things. But I’ve realized that they were all things that I specifically ask God for, opportunities that I specifically asked God to present. And so, even though I’ve said yes to a lot of things, I’m like, “I don’t think I can take any of these things off my plate, because I think that God wants me to do all of them.” That’s a work of the Spirit because we just talked about the last episode, how you girl, she gets anxious. Okay. So that’s the Lord.
But then I’ve had other times in my life where I was saying no because no is easier for me, because I was scared or because I just wanted to protect my own time and I wanted to… So, I mean, I don’t think there’s a blanket answer to that question. I really do think that it’s a very spirit-led, prayerful consideration and having people in your life who know you, know the parameters of your life, know the parameters of your season and can help you.
I think sometimes we feel like we have to make all these decisions on our own. Even if we’re married, or even if we have church community, or even if we have a great pastor we’re like, “I just have to yes, no right now by myself,” instead of saying, “You know what, let me think about that. Let me pray about it. Let me talk to some wise people about it and let me see.”
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. That’s good.
Jackie Hill Perry: I think she said it. Prayer, prayer and community. I think with prayer, just trusting the Holy Spirit to guide you towards truth. Because, for me, I’ve just had to ask the question of why, but not deceiving myself with the answer. It’s like, “No, Spirit, I really want you to show me why through whatever means.” And so through the scriptures, through Holy Spirit-filled people. And He will because I think God is just a good Father like that. He’s just not going to leave you in the dark for too long, especially when you’ve asked them to turn the light on. I really like that saying that I just said-
Jasmine Holmes: I know. That was good.
Jackie Hill Perry: … for myself. Bars, but yeah. I do have a small question. Would you say, just even in light of what I was saying about myself, that some of our people pleasing is or can be connected to the gifts that God has given us, because I have friends who are Enneagram twos or whatever, super helpful people, real kind and nice, usually with a gift of hospitality who struggle with people pleasing the most. But it’s linked to some of the gifts that God has given them, right?
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s my problem.
Jasmine Holmes: [crosstalk] like killing you softly with her smile.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. That’s my problem.
Jackie Hill Perry: Are you a two?
Melissa Kruger: I’m a two.
Jackie Hill Perry: Oh, that makes sense. I wasn’t even trying to describe you, girl.
Melissa Kruger: So, thanks, Jackie. Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: She just started squirming the whole time you were talking. She’s like-
Jackie Hill Perry: Oh, I didn’t know I was describing my friend.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. It does. I think it goes hand in hand. That’s what can make it so hard to discern for me because, unfortunately, I’m plagued by verses that say, “Anyone who knows the good they ought to do and fails to do it sins.” I’m like, “Well, that’s a good thing to do. It’s a good thing to go get tea for Jasmine or coffee for Jackie.” I mean, so I can almost be plagued by… I see so many good things to do and I’ve had to learn, just because there’s a good thing to do doesn’t mean I’m the one who’s supposed to do it.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s good.
Melissa Kruger: My husband is not a people pleaser at all. And so, it’s been so helpful to have his lens looking in my life. Now, sometimes I want to be like, “Stop telling me what I should say yes or no to.” But he’s really helpful. One thing I’ve learned to do is slow down with my yes. Before I’d say yes really quickly. Now I’ll say, “Hey, I need to check. One thing for me I’ve done with speaking is I won’t even take anything till I’ve looked at my kids’ school schedule for the year.
Because sometimes you find yourself, you said yes, meaning, well… Like for me one time, it was then it was my daughter’s homecoming. I had said yes like a year and a half before.
Jackie Hill Perry: Oh, man.
Melissa Kruger: And then you’re like, “Oh.”
Melissa Kruger: So every yes might be a no to something else. And it’s really hard to say yes faithfully and go forward in it and trust the Lord in it. But I’ve learned to slow my yeses to certain things, in hopes of trying to make sure I’m listening to the Spirit and pausing, rather than just jumping in and always doing things just because I should.
One thing that I actually love is when my children want to please me. It’s one of those times people pleasing works really well as a mom. You’re like, “Oh good. I like that you want to do what I want you to do.” But obviously it’s not something we want our children… Yes, we want them to please us. But ultimately we want them to please God. So how do we teach the difference to our kids? How do we walk that fine line? Because it would just be so nice if I raise my kids to be just like me and they love that, and then it’s easy.
But the reality is I’m a sinner. And so, I actually want them to always be living their life pleasing God, which might mean they move across the ocean to be a missionary in a foreign country and live far away from me. How do we raise them with that freedom to please God and follow in His ways and not just people please, or people please even to us.
Jackie Hill Perry: Well, seeing as though you have children that aren’t in diapers.
Jasmine Holmes: Great.
Jackie Hill Perry: How would you answer that question also?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. Because I feel like we’re still in a stage where something that I’ve learned with my sons is that their first example of God’s love, God’s holiness, God’s requirements of them is me. They’re in a stage where I am the one that is showing God’s love to them right now. So, yeah. Once we get out of that stage…
Melissa Kruger: That’s a good point because you’re right. In some sense, obeying you is a commandment. To obey your parents as to the Lord is what they’re supposed to do right now. But then it changes to honor your father and mother. Obey in these young years, but then it’s honor them. And so, we’ve seen this with our kids. In some ways, they make different choices even in what type of church they’re going to and all of that.
I’ll be honest. For me. I’m just so glad they’re going to church. I’m like, “It’s okay if you want to go to a Baptist church.” I mean, it’s shocking, but we’re okay with it. No, I mean, yeah, there are choices they’re starting to make, and it’s been interesting. I mean, I feel like I’m in a very limited world. I haven’t had kids who are yelling at me and rebelling in these obvious ways. That’d be a lot harder and a lot more painful.
Our kids are making choices, but we just have conversations about it. I mean, and some of them, I want them to make their own choices. I mean, we’ve told our daughter, “Hey, go to a different style church. You’re going to find things there you love that they do so much better. I mean, one thing, to be quite honest, she’s seen at the church she’s involved in, is they’re much more missional and outreach-focused. They’re talking about going around on campus and sharing the gospel. And she didn’t have that as much in the tradition that we raised her in.
And so, I’ve been like, “Take the good.” Now I said, “Are you seeing any weaknesses?” And she seen some weaknesses too. And so, some of it I think is being open to realize our children’s choices are not a reflection of us.
Jasmine Holmes: Oh, say that again. Yes.
Melissa Kruger: As a parent, we sometimes-
Jackie Hill Perry: Yes. You should tattoo it on your stomach.
Jasmine Holmes: I mean, seriously.
Melissa Kruger: That what they do is what they do. And as they age, I think that’s a hard transition to make as a parent, because for so long, we look at that three-year-old who’s throwing that fit, and then the mom gives them the treat, and we’re like, “That is your fault.
Jasmine Holmes: Right. Like, “Oh, look what you did.”
Melissa Kruger: Because you just rewarded the tantrum. To where they really get to the point where their choices are their choices and letting them do that freely allows them not to have to people please. I think we can raise kids who are people pleasers, but always being dissatisfied by the choices they’re making. But kids know when… It’s like, “You’re embarrassing me.”
Jasmine Holmes: Oh yeah, we do.
Melissa Kruger: For different things, versus, “Hey, that’s not the choice I’d make, but I love you. Go do it.”
Jasmine Holmes: I come from the homeschool community, and at its worst, it is all about creating children in your own image. At its best, it is about facilitating the growth of children who have the freedom to follow Christ in a variety of different ways. Homeschooling is a great, great outlet for that. But at its worst, definitely creating kids in your own image.
This woman sent me a message and said, “How do your parents deal with the fact that you are a Presbyterian who’s not going to homeschool your kids?” I was like, “Why do they have to deal with it? Why did they have to deal with?” She was just like, “well, because they raised you to homeschool your kids and to be Baptist.” I was like, “They raised me to obey God. They didn’t raise me to homeschool my kids or be…”
But you could just tell that she was very much seeing her children’s decisions as a perfect reflection of her, because through homeschooling, she thought that she was taking out every influence besides herself in her children’s life so that she could then raise that child up in the perfect image of herself, which to me sounds terrifying. I don’t need to be the only image in my child’s life. I can’t raise them up perfectly. That’s not what I’m called to do, praise God.
Again, at its worst, I’m a homeschool advocate through and through. I had a great experience. But at its worst, it’s a place where I have also seen that tendency and proclivity to think of our children as the sum of the choices that we’ve made on their behalf, instead of thinking of them as image bearers who then grow up to be adults. It can also happen on the flip side with children who blame their parents for every single thing that goes wrong in their life, and every single thing that their parents did that wasn’t perfect or they didn’t see as perfect.
I mean, healthy adulthood is seeing your parents as flawed people who did the very best they could by God’s grace, being able to call out the sins of your parents because they’re not perfect. But also not always seeing yourself in relation to your parents. My son is four. I’m not doing that yet, but I’m already thinking, when I get an email from school, “Okay. All right. This is not about you. This is about Win. This is about Win growing and learning and you’re here to help him and you’re here to shepherd him and guide him. But every single thing Win does is not a reflection of you because you’re not the only factor in Win’s life. He’s his own entire person.”
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. I think, for me, I haven’t gotten here yet because, again, they’re kids kids. But knowing that my children are arrows, knowing that the great commission applies to them to go therefore and make disciples of all nations and teaching them all that God has commanded, it’s the all part that makes me want to equip my children not to be people pleasers because I think the way society is and culture is and will continue to be, it’s going to be hard to teach all that God has commanded if you are addicted to pleasing people.
I have this tattoo on my arm from 1st Corinthians 7:23, and it says like, “You’ve been brought with a price, so do not become bondservants of men.” And so I think I just want to raise them with this mentality that if you are in Christ, God sees you and is pleased by you. And so, having this divine transcendent stamp of approval sets you free to go therefore into all nations and be disapproved by people if need be.
Now, the goal isn’t to be a jerk. The goal isn’t to be rude. The goal isn’t to be bigoted. But if in the love of God you are still preaching the truth, loving the truth, being an advocate for the truth about justice, about identity, about gender, about sexuality, about marriage, I don’t even know what else we’ll be talking about in 20… About aliens being made in the image of God. I have no idea.
But whatever it is, if you’re doing that with a heart to love God and love people, and people hate you, it does not matter because their hatred of you is not authoritative. God’s word is, God’s person is. And so, I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I think I’m modeling it the best I can first. And then eventually we’re going to get to a point where it’s like, “Yo, woe to you when all men speak well of you, like the fathers did or like they did that to the false prophets. And so the goal isn’t to make everybody applaud you. The goal is to just make God happy. And by doing that, people going to be mad, but a lot of people going to get saved, and that’s the goal.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: And we bless.
Melissa Kruger: That was good.
Jackie Hill Perry: Thank you, girl.
Melissa Kruger: That was like a little mini sermon.
Jasmine Holmes: That was really good.
Jackie Hill Perry: I felt it in my soul.
Melissa Kruger: Good.
Jackie Hill Perry: No, because I go into these college campuses and teach and talk, and I see all these students, I don’t think were ever trained to know how to deal with people not liking them.
Melissa Kruger: That’s a great point.
Jackie Hill Perry: And so, we wonder why everybody is confused, why nobody’s getting the authentic gospel, because they’re afraid of losing friends. They’re afraid of losing followers. They’re afraid of losing jobs. And it’s just like, “Come on now. In the grand scheme of things, these things can’t possibly matter more to you than the approval of God.” But obviously they do.
And so, where did that start? What weren’t you taught? Did your parents just leave out the profits? Because it’s hard to reap the profits and not walk away with, “Oh, man. Being a servant of God and being honest and being prophetic-
Jackie Hill Perry:
… don’t make people like you.” Yeah. Come on. Look at Jesus.
Jasmine Holmes: But I also like the point that you made of, it’s not just being a jerk for being a jerk’s sake. Because that’s more-
Melissa Kruger: A jerk for Jesus is a thing.
Jackie Hill Perry: There’s plenty of that on Twitter.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s-
Jackie Hill Perry: Because some people get off on not being liked.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. That’s more-
Melissa Kruger: Like I’m more spiritual.
Jasmine Holmes: … like my background. It’s, yeah, people who are-
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. Look at me, I’m being persecuted.
Melissa Kruger: Yes. People who are like, ooh, yeah, they just can’t stand the truth. Oops.
Jackie Hill Perry: No, seriously.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s like you’re feeling good about yourself. Like you’re puffing yourself-
Jackie Hill Perry: Which is still a backwards way of people pleasing.
Jasmine Holmes: Right, like you’re puffing yourself up at the fact that people don’t like you. That’s very bizarre. So the opposite of people pleasing is not being a jerk. It’s not like, “I don’t want to be a people pleaser.”
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s a great point.
Jasmine Holmes: No, I hate you.
Melissa Kruger: That’s right.
Jasmine Holmes: Okay. That’s also not God pleasing. You want to please God. That’s the goal here.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. We want to love people.
Jasmine Holmes: Yes. Love them well, love them by, like you said, telling them the truth and doing it for the glory of God. Not to be liked or to be disliked, but for God’s glory, caring more about their soul than about their reaction to you and response to you. On either side of that spectrum, because I do know people who judge their interaction with non-believers based on how mad they make the non-believer and it’s like, “Okay, but was was God glorified or-
Jackie Hill Perry: No.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. She just couldn’t stand me because I was just coming after all her idols. Ha ha ha. And it’s like, “All right. Cool. Does she know God loves her?
Jackie Hill Perry: Right, or no.
Jasmine Holmes: Yes. Very, very interesting. Did she get mad at you because you were just coming straight from the scripture and straight from the heart of God or because you were trying to offend her? There’s differences.
Melissa Kruger: It’s interesting because the sinners always seemed to resonate with Jesus, and it was always the Pharisees who seemed to get really mad at him.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah, I mean, it was an interesting thing because he spoke with kindness to the sinner, the person who knew they needed him. But it does always seem like it was-
Jasmine Holmes: The person who thought they were righteous. He was like both barrels, you whitewashed tombs, you open sepulchers.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah, he did not hold back. He was willing to go after some things.
Jasmine Holmes: Which I always, when I read the gospels, realize that I am the Pharisee. Like I am the one who was raised the right way and has all the law and has all the goodie two… So whenever I’m reading and I’m seeing Jesus talk to the Pharisees really roughly, I think I’m usually used to being like, “Wow, those Pharisees, they just…” Again, like the Israelites, they just didn’t have that right. And now I read it and I’m like, “Oh that’s talking to me. I am the whitewashed tomb.”
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. And then, in some ways though, the epitome of man pleasers, because they created their own law, and then they felt so good when they followed it. I do think there’s a side of people pleasing that is actually surprisingly legalistic, like, “Oh, I’m going to create a standard, that this means I love you.” And then you’re right, on the other side of it means I get hurt when you don’t love the way I’ve made up a standard to love.
Whereas when we love the way God’s called us love, it’s going to be painful. I mean, it’s going to strip us of self and it’s going to hurt at times to love someone else. So we’re definitely not saying run from ever loving hard. Because it’s hard to love someone as Christ loved the church. I mean, it says he gave himself up for her. He made himself a sacrifice for her. So we should, in a right sense, sacrifice for the sake of the gospel for others.
But I do think but it’s not for us. And so, one way I think I can recognize it in my heart is when I can do it freely without thinking, “I scratched your back. When are you going to scratch mine?” And there’s this, “Oh, that was the selfless love of Christ being poured out,” versus this, “Oh, I did this for you. Now you do this for me.”
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. It’s true.
Jasmine Holmes: Just looking beyond the person, whether you’re having to say no and you’re offending them or whether you’re saying yes and they’re happy, looking beyond them and their reaction, not basing your decision on their action, but really basing your decision and your words on faithfulness to Christ, which is hard because people, they’re in the way. I just only see that person that’s in the way, but I need to look beyond that person.
Jackie Hill Perry: How can the church actually sometimes foster man pleasing over God pleasing? In some ways, almost like this Christian, it’s so hard to tell sometimes what is the self-seeking versus what is the self-sacrificing? But sometimes the church can feed a self-righteousness or a legalism or a, “If you do this, you’re a good Christian,” or, “If you do this, you’re a godly woman.”
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. I was going to say it does it with womanhood a lot. I think a lot of teaching about womanhood is fueled by shame and people pleasing and trying to keep up with the other women around you instead of really being submitted to the word of God. I’m not saying that there are pastors preaching this from the pulpit, although there might be. But more so just how we interact with each other and encourage one another. It can be really shame and people pleasing based a lot of the time, particularly with women.
I say with women, because I’m not a man. I don’t know what conversations they’re having or what motivations are at play there. But I do know a lot of times when I talk to women, a lot of their need or want to please, it’s motivated by shame, not book, chapter, and verse.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. I think church cultures that are super unhealthy or spiritually abusive, they can make it seem as if obedience to the pastors or the leaders and doing certain types of ministry things is the same as obedience to God. I think when that becomes confused, people pleasing just becomes addictive because you don’t know the difference between obeying God and honoring or listening to your pastors.
So they’re like, “So you’re going to serve in this thing. And I feel like God is calling you to do this, or this will be useful to you.” And you know if you say no, you’ll be a disappointment, you’ll be reprimanded. You might get some church discipline, heck. So it’s like you start to say yes to all these things that God probably hasn’t even called you to do, out of obedience and out of fear.
That’s just not the environment I think a church should create. I think there should be a measure of freedom and giving people the opportunity and the autonomy to decide, based on their relationship with God, what ministry they should do and the freedom to say, “You know what? I’m burnt out. Let me opt out of it.” Because there’s some churches I’ve heard where someone wants to opt out a ministry and now there’s all these accusations, like, “What are you doing on the backend? Why are you so burdened?” Where it’s like, “Bro, they’re tired.”
That’s not to say you don’t push, you don’t inquire, you don’t counsel, you don’t challenge. But at the same time, I think, yeah, we just don’t make it easy on people to please God over and above people when we just convolute things.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, for sure. And a lot of times that comes from our own misunderstanding of the word. We can’t encourage people to walk rightly if we haven’t done the work of looking to the word ourselves, because sometimes I think people have really good intentions with things that are just wrong ways of teaching or wrong ways of relating. I don’t think a lot of times people are malicious. They just haven’t been steeped in the word, which to me is a cautionary warning for me that I need to be steeped in the word so that I know the difference between these things. So it’s not a log and speck situation.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. That’s a great point though, because we can only know how to please the Lord, if we’re in the word. And so, if we’re just listening to a pastor-
Jasmine Holmes: That’s true.
Melissa Kruger: … we’re told in the word, there are actually some who are wolves in sheep’s clothing and they’re actually set out to destroy the flock. It says specifically that they go after women sometimes.
Jasmine Holmes: Weak-willed.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. Yeah, I think we have to be a strong-willed woman is going to be a woman who knows what God says and what God requires. So if there’s a pastor out there telling you to do something that’s clearly not true in scripture, don’t follow. Maybe that’s a great way in some ways to just tie up that the best way we make sure we’re pleasing God is to be obeying God. How do we know how to obey God? We’re listening to his word on a daily basis so that we make sure we’re walking in His commands and we’re praying and asking for what’s unclear.
There’s so much that’s clear. So that’s not up for grabs. If you’re thinking, “Should I have an affair with that married man?” It’s a no. It would not please God to do that. There’s so much that’s clear. But I think in a lot of this, the unclear where we might fall into people pleasing some more. But that’s going to take dependence upon the Spirit. That’s going to take a daily relationship with God, for Him to start showing us, “Hey, this is the way, walk in it.”
Jasmine Holmes: Absolutely.
Melissa Kruger: And we have to listen to Him in that way.
Jackie Hill Perry: You are the best at closing.
Jasmine Holmes: Just wrapped it up again. Isn’t there a TV show called The Closer. There is.
Melissa Kruger: Maybe there is.
Jasmine Holmes: Now it’s your show.
Melissa Kruger: Okay. I’ll be the closer.
Jackie Hill Perry: So talented.
Melissa Kruger: I’ll be the closer.
Jackie Hill Perry: Even though you’ve got to ask the favorite things question.
Melissa Kruger: I know. I know. We’re moving on to favorite things. And so, this is an interesting one to me. On favorite things, if you were going to be on a reality TV show, what show would you want to be on and why?
Jackie Hill Perry: Is it one where I’m receiving gifts? Because you’ve got like Extreme Home Makeover.
Jasmine Holmes: That’s where I’m going to be on.
Jackie Hill Perry: Stuff like that.
Melissa Kruger: Oh, that’s where we all are.
Jasmine Holmes: I want to be on that one or anything on HGTV. I like my house, the way that it looks on the outside. Sometimes I change the outside. But I want, yeah, whatever-
Melissa Kruger: You have to pick a specific HGTV.
Jasmine Holmes: I don’t know the names. I just turn them on when I’m in hotels and just watch. I know Fixer Upper. I know the name of that one. I’m not a big shiplap person.
Jackie Hill Perry: You don’t have to be.
Jasmine Holmes: So that might be a problem.
Melissa Kruger: No.
Jackie Hill Perry: Well, they’re technically not on HGTV anymore.
Melissa Kruger: That’s true.
Jasmine Holmes: Oh, man.
Jackie Hill Perry: But they have other channel.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s a show though.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. You can be on their show.
Jasmine Holmes: All right. I’ll be on their show.
Jackie Hill Perry: Okay. There you go. I would be on a Top Chef. I would be a judge.
Melissa Kruger: That’d be fun.
Jackie Hill Perry: That would be fun.
Melissa Kruger: You get to try what they create.
Jackie Hill Perry: Exactly. Now, as soon as they introduce oysters, that’s not my thing. Cantaloupe, not my thing. The tartar, mm-mm. I’m going to eat it because I’ve got people-pleasing tendencies.
Melissa Kruger: Well, and you’re a judge. You’ve got to.
Jackie Hill Perry: I don’t want to let nobody down.
Melissa Kruger: That’s a good idea. I didn’t think about like food options.
Jackie Hill Perry: All I watch is Food Network. So when I thought reality show, that’s what I thought.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. Well, I was thinking HGTV, and I’d probably do Love It Or List It.
Jackie Hill Perry: Really?
Jasmine Holmes: Because…
Melissa Kruger: Then you get to see the other options, but then they’d fix up my house. In some ways, I’d like for them to come in and fix up my house.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s fair.
Melissa Kruger: And then they’re fighting to make it… And so, I’d get to see some really good houses, but then they’d make it all nice for me.
Jackie Hill Perry: I like that.
Jasmine Holmes: That’s a good choice.
Melissa Kruger: I’d do that.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s it for this episode of Let’s Talk. Come back next week for discussion on judging people, judgmental saints. You can subscribe to Let’s Talk through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you like to get your podcasts. Check out other shows from the Gospel Coalition Podcast network at tgc.org/podcast. The Gospel Coalition supports the church in making disciples of all nations by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.