A Prison of Mine Own Making: Am I a People-Pleaser?

old-prison-2-1093527-mA prison is a place of confinement, a place without freedom, a place of loneliness. Nobody would voluntarily enter a prison. However, many people have entered into a prison of their own making.  This prison is the prison of being a people-pleaser.  A people-pleaser is one who desires to please others before pleasing God. By trying to please others, they face the great problem of trying to please competing interests.  A people-pleaser doesn’t make decisions in light of what God says, but what others expect.

We are susceptible to become a people-pleaser. It is natural for us to want others to like and accept us. Being a people-pleasure is difficult because there are many competing interests that are coming from various directions. What one person thinks is the right decision; another person takes the opposite view. As a people-pleaser, we live our lives by the opinions and demands of others, instead of seeking to please our Lord God.

One Christian who found freedom from the prison of being a people-pleaser was the Apostle Paul. In his ministry, Paul constantly received criticism from others. Paul could find acceptance with various people by surrendering his ministry to the opinions of others. However, Paul chose not to enter the prison of being a people-pleaser. He found freedom by desiring to please only one person, God, His Father. “Even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

The Lighthouse at Port  Sanilac, Michigan.  Photo by Mark J. Booth

The Lighthouse at Port
Sanilac, Michigan. Photo by Mark J. Booth

How can we find the freedom that Paul found?  First of all, Paul understood the danger of being a pleaser of men. He knew that it would be impossible to please God, if he was always seeking to please people with their ever-changing opinions, desires and goals. He also understood that men, being sinners, could not always see life from God’s perspective. Paul knew that when he kept his eyes upon what men thought, he would soon forget to keep his eyes focused upon God.

Secondly, Paul understood that God was his Master. We don’t serve ten masters or twenty masters. No, we serve one Master. Our goal is to please the very One who loves us and knows what is best for us. We submit to Him as Lord. Yes, in living for our Master, we may serve others, but our eyes are always upon pleasing Him. When we become a people-pleaser, we no longer are submitting to the Lord as our Master. Many people have ruined their lives because they sought to please others at the cost of pleasing the Lord God

Thirdly, people are very quick to wrongly judge our motives; God knows our motives because he knows our every thought and attitude. Paul understood that God is the One who will ultimately test our hearts. God knows not only what we do, but why we do it. A people-pleaser can’t please everybody thus they feel frustration and guilty. People are often quite harsh in their judgment of our actions. God sees our hearts. If our hearts are clear before God then we will be free from being a people-pleaser.

Fourthly, people tend to be selfish. They want to control or even bully others to follow their desires, opinions and goals. Their desire is self-focused instead of God-focused. God’s will is not only for His own Glory, but for our benefit. Others can’t see the big picture, God sees it. He loves us and wants what is best for us. When we focus on God’s wisdom and plan, we will be free from the limited understanding of those around us.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we ignore the people we love and serve, but it does mean that their opinions should not imprison us. God can use the thoughts of others to give us direction, but we must not take our focus from the One whom we are truly serving. Yes, we can try to make those around us happy, but it must never be at the cost of displeasing our Master. When we become imprisoned by the desires of others, we will never be free to serve our True Master.

“Dear Lord, I find myself tempted to be a people-pleaser. I don’t enjoy the criticism that comes my way when I make decisions. I want you to use me in the lives of others. However, I realize that when I become imprisoned by the desires of others, I can no longer be useful to you or to others. Please help me to keep my focus upon you. Help me to discern the difference between my will and your will. I know in my heart, that in pleasing you that I will reach my full potential of being a blessing to others.

 

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Maria Teresa Standridge (Her Testimony) 1924-2013

Maria Teresa Standridge-A woman who loves God and others.
Maria Teresa Standridge-A woman who loves God and others.

Yesterday, Maria Teresa Standridge went to be with the Lord. Maria Teresa served the Lord with her husband, Bill, for nearly sixty years in Rome, Italy. Though she was eighty-nine years old when she died. She served the faithfully until her death. Maria Teresa not only impacted the lives of many people in Italy, but also in the United States and around the world.

I have been given permission to share Maria Teresa’s thoughts as she approached the last few months of her life. Please take the time to read this beautiful testimony written by Maria Teresa of God’s peace in the midst of facing death.  Please feel free to write any comments that would be an encouragement to Bill and the rest of the family

I’M GOING HOME! BY MARIA TERESA STANDRIDGE (ROME, ITALY)

“Mr. Standridge, bring  your wife to the emergency room immediately for a blood transfusion. The levels in her blood are very low. We have already informed your doctor. ”

I had just finished blood tests in a medical center and things seemed really serious. I did not expect anything like this, even though, for a few weeks, I had been feeling pretty weak and with little energy. We went straight to the emergency room of a large hospital in Rome, close to home, and soon I was lying on a bed with a needle stuck in my arm and a nice bag of blood, which was followed by two more, transferring its liquid, drop by drop, into my veins.

Since then I have been on a rollercoaster of news and surprises, hospitalization, other blood tests, and also samples of bone marrow, that led to a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, to which doctors have added the unpromising  adjective “terminal” .

So today, without any particular pain and, apparently, still in good health and with a good measure of strength, I find myself thinking in a very practical and realistic way, of my “going home with the Lord” when He wills. Perhaps very soon.

How have I reacted to a story like this?  Honestly, surprised and almost in disbelief.  But, even so, with HIS peace.

A few years ago, when I was invited to do Bible studies in a Conference for women, I said with a laugh that, given my age of more than 85, (soon I’m going to be 89), the organizers would do well to also get a “spare  tire” in case I had to decline the invitation. But honestly, given my health that I thought was disease-proof,  I said it jokingly as if I were actually immortal.

Today, the jokes are over and the reality is different. It is a reality of a certain sadness (I’d be lying if I said otherwise), but also very calm.

Sadness because leukemia is a reality that speaks of separation from Bill, the only love of my life, with whom I have spent more than 56 years, and have had the joy of serving the Lord, in a kind of spiritual and also intellectual symbiosis.   I shared a passion for the Word of God, the commitment of raising four children, and the responsibility of helping many to learn and grow in biblical faith.

Bill and Maria Teresa Standridge-Married and serving the Lord together for over 56 years!
Bill and Maria Teresa Standridge- Serving the Lord together for over 56 years in Italy!

I know that after my departure Bill will feel a bit as though he was “mutilated”, but I know that his love for the Lord, His Word, and the Italians, will support him and help him serve as long as he has the strength.

Of course I do not like, either, the idea of ​​leaving our four children, three daughters-in-law and also a son-in-law, who love me and twelve grandchildren (one married) and two great-grandchildren, each one more lovely than the other. But the moment of separation will come.

But my joy is that all have trusted the Lord as their Savior and are therefore in his hands.

But now, let’s talk about the reasons for my peace of mind.

I came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord when I was 20 years old. Since then, the grace of God has surrounded me and the unmerited favor of the Lord has wrapped and protected me.

I know I’m saved, and my faith is based on the promises of God’s Word.  One that comforts me in particular is the letter of the Apostle Paul to Titus: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7) What more than that could you want or hope for?

Then I had the honor to receive from the Lord a clear call to serve full-time, I went to Bible school, I had teachers of great value, I have experienced the extraordinary time of evangelistic fervor and spiritual growth in Italy after the end of World War II. I was a part of  the beginning of the new period of political freedom in Italy that gave us permission to start youth camps, summer schools, conferences and all kinds of activities that the Lord has blessed. I threw myself headlong into every new evangelistic project.

My university studies prepared me to have a ministry of writing and my heart led me to make available to the Lord every capacity that He had given me.

Over the years I learned to study and nourish myself in the Word of God, I understood the importance of furthering knowledge in His truth, and rooted my faith in obedience to what it says. Without a good supply of this type of knowledge, the Christian life can become very severe and be very flat.

I confess also that I have made many mistakes for which I had to ask forgiveness from the Lord, from my loved ones, brothers and sisters, and I realized that forgiveness is the key to the Christian life.  It is essential in both the human family and that of God.

He who does not forgive others has understood little of the love of God, but those who practice the confession of their sins to God and asking for the pardon of all they have offended, know that the blood of Christ purifies them and allows them to walk in the light (1 John 1:8-10).

After so many years of walking with the Lord, I realized that “in me, in my flesh, Maria Teresa, dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18), but whatever I did that is good is what he has done for me and in me (Isaiah 26:12).

During a conference in Isola del Gran Sasso, Daniel, one of our sons, in a meditation stressed the fact that after the resurrection, Jesus bore in his body the marks of his suffering and death for us. The disciples have seen his scars and know that, with his resurrected human body, Jesus ascended to heaven.

In the vision of Revelation,  John later saw Him as a “lamb, standing, which seemed to have been sacrificed” (5:6) and I, with myriads of believers (and hopefully with you) will behold for all eternity those signs of the price paid by Jesus for our salvation.   Those signs will inspire us to worship Him in perfection.

This wonderful thought humbles me, but also fills me with great gratitude.
With love, Maria Teresa  Rome, March 2013

Do you want to have the same my certainties?
Write to:Association of Evangelical Truth
Via Pozzuoli, 9 – 00182 Rome – Italy
http://www.istitutobiblicobereano.org | assverev@tin.it