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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Lesson 2: Don't be a people-pleaser

Introduction to the lessons
Lesson 1

In Lesson 1 I talked about finding it hard to know who to listen to, finding it hard to distinguish God's voice in amongst all the advice people were giving me. I think the main reason for this was me trying to be a bit of a people pleaser. I desperately wanted to take advice on board, because I valued so highly the care which people were taking over me. And I wanted to get better. And I wanted people to know that I was taking their advice and looking after myself. I always felt like people didn't trust me when I said I was resting or that people didn't really believe me when I said I knew my limits. So I was desperate to prove that, in fact, I was trying to look after myself.
An example might illustrate this better. One day I was out and needed to go home before going somewhere else later in the afternoon. I knew I needed a nap, but it was lunchtime. Now, I didn't have time to go home, eat lunch and sleep before being where I needed to be. I also knew that I was shattered but that preparing lunch would wake me up. But I let slip to a friend that I was gonna go home and sleep. “I hope you're going to eat” came the well-meant reply. Another friend, who hadn't heard this conversation, told me to go home and sleep. By the time I got home I knew within myself that I wasn't hungry and all I needed was sleep, a meal later would suffice (being ill had seriously damaged my appetite). But I knew that if I saw those people again later they were going to ask me if I'd slept and eaten. So I tried to do both. But eating when you're not hungry is not a good thing, it just makes you feel worse. And making food woke me up sufficiently that when I tried to sleep I couldn't. I ended up trying to force myself to sleep, getting about 10 minutes before I had to leave again, which made me feel worse.
It's a silly example. It certainly demonstrates my silliness! The advice given to me in both cases was good but I was trying to follow it all for the wrong reasons. Instead of listening to my body I was trying desperately hard to please those around me. Of course, that can work the other way when we push ourselves beyond our limits trying to please everyone by trying to fit everything in.
Bottom line – in all areas of life, we need to be seeking to please God first, not others. And whilst God knows us better than we know ourselves, we know our own limits better than others. We may need to be reminded of them by others at times – to a certain extent that's where accountability comes in. God's given us limits. Let's stick to them.


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