My Purpose Is to Serve God
Lie: “I need to make everyone happy.”
For many years, I’ve wrestled with a degenerative condition known as spostas-itis. Far too many people suffer from this syndrome in silence, and the general population is woefully uneducated about our plight. You may have been infected by the malady and not even realize it. That’s because spostas-itis can take on different forms. Maybe you recognize one of them:
I’m sposta arrive early.
I’m sposta stay late.
I’m sposta volunteer for the extra project at work.
I’m sposta bake the 79 cupcakes from scratch.
I’m sposta be all things to all people.
Spostas make you cranky because underneath each one is the desire to people-please, and the list of people to please never ends: employers, colleagues, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, parents, in-laws, spouses, children, board members, book club buddies, and on and on and on.
One of the reasons people-pleasing tempts is because it’s often confused with kindness. When someone requests a favor—even when it’s at great cost or inconvenience to you—you may agree to it because it’s the “right thing to do” or because you don’t want to appear selfish.
Hiding underneath the eagerness to please are often issues of self-worth. Saying yes to others makes you feel accepted, liked, needed. But too much people-pleasing leads to feeling overwhelmed by all you have to do, resentment toward others, and even being taken advantage of.
Some of the symptoms of Spostas-it is and people-pleasing include:
· Pretending to agree with everyone
· Carrying the responsibility for how other people feel
· Feeling uncomfortable if someone expresses anger or disappointment toward you
· Avoiding conflict at all costs
· Refusing to admit when your feelings have been hurt
If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect you have contracted spostas-itis, remain calm. A cure exists. You can break the addiction to people-pleasing. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s presence and wisdom. Practice saying no to a simple request and work your way up to bigger ones. Cultivate an awareness of the kinds of people, situations, and circumstances that spark the spostas, and be prepared to offer an alternative response next time. In the process, scout for the yeses you can dispense with joy, the ones that align with your unique gifting and God’s work in your life.
The aim of life is to be a God-pleaser, not a people-pleaser. You’re handcrafted to love, serve, and glorify God. This is rooted in Scripture: “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
You’re never “sposta” be the all-encompassing happiness factory for your entire family, office, neighborhood, church, or friend group. Stop trying to be. When you accept that the world will keep spinning without you, it will free you up to enjoy the ride.