People pleasing is common among all walks of life, and your teen may struggle with people pleasing more than you might realize. Our human hearts long for approval and acceptance from those around us. While it’s not unusual to see people pleasing in others, it can be more difficult to spot it in ourselves, let alone know how to change our habits. People pleasing goes all the way back to Bible times. Paul addresses people pleasing in his letter to the Galatians:
What makes God’s approval a better alternative to others’ approval?
Self-help culture would argue the best alternative to others’ approval is approval of self. On the surface, self-approval is appealing because it doesn’t rely on anyone else. What we often forget is that we are our harshest critics. Leaning on our own approval leaves us feeling shameful and empty, digging a hole we don’t know how to get out of. God changes everything when His grace enters the picture! Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” When we seek God’s approval, it doesn’t mean we sign up for a lifelong pursuit of perfection. On the contrary, we receive the gift of forgiveness through the blood of Christ. This creates room for learning from our mistakes without fear of eternal condemnation. Grace makes seeking the approval of God greater than any other approval because, in Christ, we already have it. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see the sum of our mistakes. Instead, he sees Christ’s perfection!
How do we walk in Christ’s freedom?
A common misconception of grace is that we now get the freedom to do whatever we want. Paul addresses this in his letter to the Romans. Chapter 6 verses 1-2 says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Paul is aware that our sinful flesh will take the opportunity to run free if we don’t address it. The freedom Christ gives us in His grace does not provide a free pass to do whatever our heart desires. For as we are reminded in Jeremiah 17:9, “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure,” which is why we need Christ to renew our hearts. Instead, we have freedom to:
- Seek to honor God with our actions without fear of failing.
- Walk in confidence of our God who is actively making us a new creation.
- Trust the Lord and His guidance which lessens our need for others’ approval.
- Willingly and humbly accept constructive criticism.
Grace also changes how we view others!
When we lay down our need to please others, our perspective changes. The burden of validation previously placed on others has been lifted. In this new freedom, boundaries can be communicated and enforced to create a healthy dynamic. Conflict is no longer avoided, but can be used to grow and heal relationships. The grace we have accepted for ourselves can be extended to others when our expectations aren’t met, and we can love more freely knowing we aren’t serving for a “thank you,” but only to honor God.
As we progress in our people pleasing recovery, it’s important to remain attentive of your habits. Changing our mindset is a life-long process. Find friends who will join you in your journey and support you as you begin saying “no.” It’s always easier to start growing in safe spaces!
Christian Counseling Can Help Your Teen Overcome People Pleasing
Kayla Wright is a frequent guest author on this blog. She joined the counseling team at Life Training Christian Counseling in Louisville, Kentucky in May of this year. The passion of her counseling work is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Teens and pre-teens.
Kayla Wright, as well as each of our other counselors, offers convenient sessions at Life Training Christian Counseling in Louisville, Kentucky. She also offers online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime. Please click on this link to learn much more about how our Counseling for teens and pre-teens in Louisville, Kentucky can help the child you love find the highly-effective, Christ-centered help they need. Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at email@example.com