When I was growing up in rural Arkansas, my dad owned a general store. It wasn’t an impressive place, but it offered most of the things people needed.
It sat just up the road from our house. Every day at noon Dad walked home for lunch.
I don’t know that “hours of operation” were ever posted, but everyone knew when the store was open.
One old man always wanted to shop between noon and one o’clock.
He did not drive to the store because he knew the store was closed.
He drove to our house, where Dad was eating lunch.
The man didn’t park on the side of the road by our house. (We had no driveway.)
He drove his old-timey, heavy, black car up to the verge of our yard. There he sat, scowling, and waiting for Dad to come out and open the store especially for him.
From behind our living room curtains, my siblings and I watched him: an angry old man sitting in our front yard, inside a gangster car, its shiny grill aimed right at our front porch.
We kids knew (and the old grouch knew) Dad would not be intimidated.
After he finished his lunch, Dad walked back to the store, with the black car trailing him.
Dad didn’t feel obliged to meet unreasonable expectations of others. He was not a people pleaser.
For years, I had trouble refusing any request.
Early in our marriage, when Dan and I had almost no excess money, I opened the front door one day to a lightbulb salesman.
This man was selling lightbulbs guaranteed to last forever.
“These bulbs will never burn out,” he said.
I bought a box of five for $25.
I didn’t want or need the lightbulbs, but I could not find the courage to say no to the salesman.
Dan came home soon afterward. When I told him what I had done, he got back into his car, carrying the box of lightbulbs. He found the salesman, who was still peddling in the neighborhood.
Dan retrieved my $25 check and gave the lightbulbs back to the seller.
I simply have trouble telling people no.
Back when friends had parties for the purpose of selling cookware, wall art, makeup, vitamins, and the like, I went when I was invited.
I never wanted to go. Usually I found the least expensive item for sale and bought it.
I went to those parties simply to be nice.
I want to be nice, and you probably do too.
But recognize the difference between being nice and being a people pleaser.
When I am nice, my concern is for the other person. That reflects kindness.
When I am a people pleaser, my concern is for my own image. That reflects selfishness.
According to an article I found at www.learning-mind.com, being a people pleaser leads to unhealthy consequences.
- People use you.
- You suppress far too much.
- Nobody will ever know the true you.
- You have extreme pressure to keep up appearances.
- You become a control freak.
Jesus’ concern was always for others. But a people pleaser, Jesus was not.
He spoke the truth. He carried out His God-given mission. He was not interested in being popular or enabling people to be selfish.
My mission is to serve God and other people.
This means I should say no when saying yes is harmful to the other person.
I should say no when the other person’s expectations are unreasonable.
And this is the hard one. I should say no when I am tempted to say yes simply to be a people pleaser.