I’d like to start off this morning by asking you a question: How much time will you spend this week trying to make others happy; seeking their approval?
I bet if you are honest and think about the question a bit you will have to admit the answer is quite a lot. We tend to spend an enormous amount of time trying to measure up to standards. Some of these are set by our bosses. Some by our spouses. Some by customers. Others by what culture says is good or admirable. Some are even ones we set for ourselves. And if we aren’t careful, chasing the approval of people can exhaust us. Why is that? Because it is impossible to please everyone. Impossible!
I was listening to a message by Pastor Rick Warren on this subject and he made the comment that not even God can please everybody! At the same time a farmer is praying for rain the little league team is praying that it won’t rain. People from two different teams are both praying that they win the same game. You get the idea.
We could learn a lot from Jesus about this (and of course every) topic. He never got caught up in tempering his actions or message depending on who was in the audience. It didn’t matter if he was in the presence of dignitaries or the poorest of the poor. He was always genuine and true to his mission. And what was his mission? To please his father. To do only what made Him smile. In John 5:30 Jesus says, “I only try to please the One who sent me.” Jesus truly lived for an audience of one.
This is not an excuse to be a jerk or not care about others. That too would be counter to the character of Jesus. It does however acknowledge that there will be times when no matter how hard you try, some people will feel like you don’t measure up. Or that to do so would require you to compromise your values. When you hit those forks in the road there is a way to peace. And that way is to have the same attitude of Christ. “What will please my father?”
If you can look yourself in the mirror and you know you did your best to do that, you can live with confidence that you have done all you can and need to do. As one who struggles with this, I have had to acknowledge that at any point in time I am likely disappointing someone. If I get consumed by that I become frustrated and tired. Yet the peace that comes with trying to put a smile on God’s face, and caring about that first and foremost, is refreshing and releasing. It is literally life giving.
I’ll close today with a second question.. How would your life be better if you too began to live with that same focus and peace?
Live on purpose,