What Will People Think?
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. –Galatians 1:10
One of my favorite Christmas cartoons as a kid was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. For the first part of the movie, Rudolph’s parents are embarrassed by his glowing red nose and cover it up with dirt to keep it a secret. For discussion’s sake we could say they were so concerned about what everyone else thought about it, that they almost inadvertently kept Rudolph from his destiny.
How much should we care about other people’s opinions of us? To say we shouldn’t care at all seems too much on the self-absorbed side but to allow others’ opinions to influence every decision we make as well as how we view ourselves is at the opposite extreme. So where is the balance? As Christians I think we sometimes believe we are supposed to please everyone, which is not the case. We should do our best to be someone people can relate to; in other words, we need to be real, genuine human beings so that those that don’t know God don’t perceive that being a Christian means you have to essentially be perfect. People who don’t know God will relate to Christians who are human and have flaws, more than they will the “perfect” Christian (which doesn’t exist). However, we should not allow others’ opinions to have such power over us that they become the primary thing influencing how we live and what opinion we have of ourselves. We shouldn’t become so focused on pleasing people that we get ourselves into bondage that keeps us from freely being exactly who God created us to be. For most of us, it seems there are times that God will direct us to do something that may not make sense to others. He may have placed in us certain personality characteristics or talents that don’t blend with the group of people in which we are currently involved. Others may not understand a decision we feel we are to make, or the timing of that decision. If we stifle God’s calling, or if we hold back from expressing our unique personality (which is God’s light shining uniquely through us) because we don’t think others will understand, we are choosing people over God.
On the other side of things if we completely ignore what others may think about us or our decisions, we may be in danger of living a life of selfishness, in which we do whatever we please without concern about how we affect others. Perhaps the key lies in considering others’ feelings but not letting that stop us from doing the thing we feel in our spirit that God is calling us to do. Easier said than done, right? Right! Especially when the “others” we’re talking about are people in our inner circle. It’s hard to follow God’s lead when you know the people you love may not understand. But God calls us to be willing to follow Him above ALL others (“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” –Matthew 19:29).
The difference, I think, is in keeping things in balance. We must at least consider others’ feelings and opinions, but they should not have more power over our decisions and self-esteem than God’s feelings and opinions towards us. What He says about us is what is most important! Oh, and by the way…what He says about us is good. I encourage you to pull out your Bible this week and check out all the things God says YOU are, and be empowered to be bold in doing His will!