Confessions of a People Pleaser

By Susie Hawkins

Confession: I am a people pleaser. Wanting people to like me or approve of me as a pastor’s wife has caused me to take on jobs or projects I really didn’t want, and frankly, wasn’t good at. Eventually, I learned a lesson about pleasing people that changed my thinking.

There was a woman in our church that sat near me every Sunday. She was quite the fashionista – always in dramatic designer outfits and accessories, perfect makeup and hair, the whole persona. We occasionally had quick chats after the services, but that was as far as our relationship went.

A few weeks before Easter I received a call from an exclusive dress shop. The sales lady told me that Fashionista had bought me a suit for Easter Sunday and could I pick it up? Note: I would not choose the clothing, she had chosen it for me.

My first reaction was to wonder “Do I really dress THAT bad?”

I guess I did, in her opinion, because she was going to make me presentable on Easter Sunday. I had an ominous feeling about this deal, because her style was so drastically different from mine.

When the sales lady presented me with my Easter outfit, I stared at it, literally dumbfounded. It was black. The jacket had a high collar (think Cruella Deville) and puffy shoulders. But the worst was that across the front was a gigantic off-white lightning bolt made of sequins! I was speechless. All I could think of was the verse where Jesus said “I saw Satan fall like lightning…”

Confessions from a People Pleaser

I later tearfully told my husband, “I have to wear a satanic suit on Easter!” He told me of course I didn’t have to wear it, but I knew I would because I was (am?) such a pathetic people pleaser. Of course Fashionista was keeping a sharp eye out for me that day and beamed when she saw me, clapping her little French manicured hands and nodding her approval. How miserable I was! But I kept a stiff upper lip and tried to think only about the Resurrection. When I got home I threw the suit in the back of my closet and vowed to get rid of it ASAP.

Upon reflection, I learned a good lesson that day. I should have called Fashionista and said, “Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity, but I can’t accept this.” Just because someone thinks I should take on a job, or wear a satanic suit to church doesn’t mean I have to. My goal should be to please God and look to Him for approval, not others. I’m sorry I didn’t learn this lesson earlier, but it has served me well. I’ve been able to apply this principle to more important areas of ministry life and am better for it.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ — Galatians. 1:10.

What lessons have you learned when it comes to pleasing people?

Published April 16, 2015

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Susie Hawkins

Susie lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband OS Hawkins. She is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations on Connections in Ministry. She has 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren, keeping her life full of craziness and joy.