I’ve written before about the characteristics of the youngest child but recently there has been one characteristic that has been rearing it’s ugly head…
I often forget that this is something that plagues me but it is there. The desire to calm the storms within relationships, for all to be happy and joyful. Saying yes in situations when really I want to say no because it’s what others want. Seeking advice and attempting to do EVERYTHING that has been said to me. Wanting people to like me and to understand me. This goes beyond just the normal making everyone happy but I want people to approve of me.
It’s actually pretty exhausting. Over the last few years I’ve gotten a little better. I’ve learned to say no but still love and care for people. I’ve learned how to truly deal with conflict in a way that creates more peace after the initial storm. I’ve learned that no matter what you do there will always be people that disapprove. I’ve learned that following Jesus means that there will always be people who disagree. I’ve learned a lot about following Jesus and not the voices of man.
Or at least I thought I had. Then all hell broke lose in my life.
I learned my job had an expiration date.
I stepped down from my ministry position.
I left my church.
My heart broke.
And often during this whole process I couldn’t figure out which way was up and which way was down. I didn’t know who I was called to or what was next. One moment I thought this town and the next another. I took advice from any wise, Jesus loving person I knew. And in the process I accepted the wisdom of man over the voice of the Lord.
You see, when I first learned that our office was changing and that I would need to figure out what was next I spent A LOT of time on my face before God. I cried a lot but I also listened a lot. This led to stepping down as youth pastor and leaving a church that I loved for a whole lot of unknown. And while God was speaking all those things He also spoke another, one that was a remnant of a word He had already spoken to me. Early on in my time here in the NE the Lord told me that His provision for me was not contingent upon how hard I worked and that in actuality my efforts to try to make more money would never lead to having enough. Instead, if I worked hard on what HE told me to put my hands to and ONLY what He told me to put my hands to then His provision would ALWAYS be enough. Fast forward to early this summer, as confusion and chaos reigned in my life, Jesus quietly whispered, “What I have for you next won’t be found in a job application, you won’t get there through searching and applying. What I have for you next I will bring about.”
As crazy as it sounds, I believed God. Why? Because He had always provided for me and because almost EVERY job I’ve ever had came through relationship not through my efforts. I believed that God would provide… BUT just as I was listening to God I was seeking the wisdom of those who had walked with Him much longer than I had. And the general consensus? The logical thing to do and what any wise person told me to do was apply. Don’t worry or fret but apply and see what doors God had opened.
I knew what God had said BUT it couldn’t hurt to at least apply, right!? At least then I was doing my due diligence. The problem though is that when we add our own “BUT clause” to the Word of God we end up not doing what God says.
The people pleaser inside of me wanted to follow the advice that was given. I wanted people to look at me and see God providing, but I was concerned that they would think I was crazy. Because when you loose your job and don’t seek another one you are one of two things, lazy or crazy. I didn’t want to be SEEN as either. I allowed what people would think about me to overrule what Jesus was saying to me.
And so for months I applied to jobs and for months I felt crazy instead. I had no peace but instead continual frustration as I tried to figure out what God wanted me to do. I hated applying and nothing seemed right, yet I kept going because that was the “smart” thing to do. Surely God would open one of these doors, it would only make sense and then maybe we would all understand why I had to leave…. I just wanted it all to make sense, to me and to them.
Well thankfully God is patient and gracious. He knows our heart even if we screw up being obedient. Jesus knew my heart wasn’t to disobey. Jesus also knew that I needed a lesson in who I was living my life to please.
And so here I stand, my job expires on December 31st but I’ve stopped applying for jobs. I stepped down from my ministry position and left a church before I knew where God was talking me. I know that people don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. People talk and wonder. Hearts are hurt and motives are brought into question. Am I going to move because of a guy? Was I always waiting to leave? Why did I step down really and what was going on? Why would God tell me to step down but not where I would be going? Did I have a “better” offer?
I still wish I could give all the answers, that they would make sense and make it hurt less. But the truth is that I can’t. All I can say is that God is bigger than our plans, is bigger than what we see to understand. Slowly the pieces are falling into place but there is still so much of His vision left to see. But there is one thing that I am certain of today… I must always be seeking to please God above all others. Gaining wisdom from others is great unless it means laying aside the Wisdom that is Jesus Christ.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, 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 God…” Galatians 1:10
What about yourself? What has God asked you to do without telling you why?
Do you struggle with trying to live up to the ideals of others? Do you live under how other people
will see you or do you seek to please God only?
Are you a people pleaser? How do you walk the thin line that is loving
people, caring for them but following Jesus regardless?