One of my biggest struggles in life is worrying about what other people think. I have a disease called, “the need to please.” Do you have this struggle? This is especially true when it comes to following Christ. I want to make other people happy. I don’t want them to think I’m different. I want them to like me and I want to blend in. Whenever I feel like God is leading me to do something, the very first thought that drops into my mind is, “What are the people going to think? How will this affect others and my relationships? Are they going to understand?
A verse that helps me a lot is Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
The Hebrew word means a trap, a snare or a hook that was put into an animal’s nose. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a bull that has a ring in their nose. With just a small ring and a small rope a 200 pound man can lead a 2000 pound bull where ever he wants. Fear of what people think will prove to be like a hook in your nose and lead you away from what God wants.
God might lead you to watch much less TV because it takes up so much time and it robs you from time with your family. Just as decide to do this; you are going to wonder, “What are people going to think if I don’t watch TV,” and “I don’t know what’s going on with the Kardashians?
Or you might say, “I believe God is leading us to be a foster parent.” And you’ve already got three kids and you’re wondering, “Well, what’s my mom going to think?” and “What’s my in-laws going to think?”
God may be leading you to give more financially to his work. Then you wonder, ‘what will my family think? Will they think I’m crazy?”
What is God leading you to do, but you are afraid of?
We may not do what God is leading us to do because we’re afraid of what people are going to think.
Here’s what has hit me like a ton of bricks, becoming obsessed with what people think about me is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about me. Or said another way, living to please people is a barrier to living to please God. People didn’t die on a cross for me, forgive me, cleanse me, give me peace, joy and purpose, Jesus did.
I have to continually deal with the inward struggle of the need to please people. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
Another struggle is that when I do step out to follow Christ, then comes the criticism! When I face criticism, I begin to think, “What if they are right?” How do you handle criticism? I’ve learned that when I follow Christ and start living differently people will notice.
These are things I’ve heard through the years. You may hear them too,
“Hey, what’s up with you? What are you doing going to church all of the time!” “Why are you going to a group meeting again? Why are you giving money to church? That’s stupid!”
“Why are you going to serve the homeless or help the needy or go on a mission trip? You are wasting your time!”
“Hey, why don’t you go to the strip club or party with us? What are you, Mr. Goody Two Shoes?”
“Come on, we used to smoke weed together or get drunk! Come back! Oh I get it, you think you’re better than us, you’re Mr. Holier Than Thou!”
When they make fun of us and criticize us and even persecute you, remember the words of Jesus, John 15:18-19. He said:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Receiving criticism is a part of being different; it’s a part of following Christ. It’s a part of leaving the normal road that leads to destruction and getting on the narrow road that leads to life. Those on the normal path don’t like when you do something different.
Here’s what I try to remember, I don’t want to worry too much when people criticize me for being different. I want to worry when they don’t! Because if they don’t, chances are I’m too much like the world. If no one makes fun of you for the way you follow Christ, you may be blending in and traveling with the crowd.
Last thought, I can’t please everyone, but I can please God.
No matter what I do, I will not please everyone, so I should stop trying. But I can please God and that’s what matters most.
For more about the series, Dare to Be Different, go to www.RidgeFellowship.com