In today's culture of self-absorption and self-promotion, it can be dangerously easy to find one's identity in the approval of others. However, as Christians, we are called to find our identity in Christ alone.
In a Q&A published Saturday by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, renowned evangelist Billy Graham shared how people-pleasers can overcome their concern with gaining the approval of others.
"Most of us like to be liked," the 98-year-old evangelist acknowledged. "And sadly, we may even do things we know are wrong (like lying about ourselves or doing things we know aren't right) in order to get someone to like us."
However, such "friendships" are seldom lasting, Graham contended, pointing to Proverbs 19:22, which reads, "What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar."
To break away from this, one must first realize what their motives actually are, said Graham: "All too often we do things like this without even thinking -but this only makes them worse," he advised. "Instead, face your apparent hunger to be liked by everyone, and realize how harmful it can be."
The most important step a people-pleaser can take to overcome their dangerous inclinations is to turn to Jesus, the evangelist said.
"Commit your life to Him," he said. "God loves you more than anyone else ever will, and He wants you to become part of His family forever. Once you understand how much God loves you, your hunger to be liked by others will begin to fade."
Graham concluded: "God also will help you deal with temptation-and especially the temptation to impress others and get them to like you. When that temptation comes, face it ... flee from it ... and thank God that He loves you and is your constant friend."
In an article published in Decision Magazine, the Baptist pastor suggested that God honors and gives lasting joy to those are more concerned with pleasing Him than making others like them.
"[The] Christian is to be in the world, but not of it-separated from it, yet a witness to it-not molded by it, but manifesting Christ to it-not ensnared in it, but exerting an influence for good over it-not compromising with the world, but challenging it-not coming down to its level, but seeking to lift souls up to a higher level," he wrote.
"Show me a Christian who is utterly devoted to Christ, whose sole aim in life is loyalty to Him and zeal for His service, whose burning desire is to do the will of God at any price, and I will show you a person who has solved the problem of worldliness," he continued. "Selfish aims, ambitions and desires of the flesh are secondary in the acceptance of a higher will-the will of God. The life lived for what this world offers seems futile and empty, tawdry and trivial compared with the utter satisfaction, the glorious joys and lasting pleasures that a person finds in Christ."