Hello, my name is Lorretta Stembridge, I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and I am a recovering…… people pleaser.
A life-long struggle, I can remember episodes from my earliest years — parents, teachers, peers…. I somehow got this crazy notion in my head that it was my job to make and keep others happy.
It’s probably no surprise to learn this behavior has affected all of my relationships through the years….. dating, marriage, parenting, homeschooling and yes, even church and my relationship with God. If people were happy and pleased with me, then I was a “good” ____________. If not then….you get the picture.
This of course, led to years of frustration and personal dissatisfaction and fed into one dysfunctional situation after another. Not pretty.
Granted, many of my “episodes’ started out with the best intentions; I simply saw needs and set out to meet them. In itself, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But gradually, over time…my motives got skewed. Even in my best moments– inwardly…secretly…it was all about me.
I wanted people to like me.
Oh, I can trace the trail back to my early childhood moments where some of this behavior was born, modeled, taught and encouraged but that’s not the crux of this issue. No, my behavior was actually a symptom rooted much more deeply in a bigger disease; SIN. Specifically, pride and ultimately idolatry, all falling under the umbrella of misplaced focus and worship gone awry.
You see, people pleasing is really all about wrong worship.
And Satan, our enemy, just loves our misplaced worship.
And you know what “They” say — those “They’s” with the fancy titles and degrees– recognition is the first step to overcoming any addiction and what I really need is to value myself more. But God says while the first step is most definitely recognition, the next step is to value myself…
not more and not less– but properly before Him.
I needed to repent.
Gradually I am overcoming this addiction. In the last few years, as God has been preparing me to step into this writing ministry, this area has been challenged in me on every level. How I see myself ultimately does reveal what I believe about God and what I believe about God will ultimately determine how I behave, how I write and how I minister.
And when I stepped out and finally launched my blog and started poking around the blogosphere to see how it’s done, I quickly noticed that the temptations to give in to the familiar habits of people pleasing and serving self are numerous. I wanted people to like me.
And the voices around us are rather accommodating; if you want more attention, do “this, that and the other thing.” Write like “this”, not about “that” and do lot’s of “this thing here”.
I’m not suggesting that good advice from those who’ve navigated these waters before is not needed or appreciated. I’ve learned so much from some truly Godly writers in the past year and gained much from their sacrificial style and suggestions. I am grateful for my community group.
What I am saying though is the potential for self-serving is high even under the guise of self-sacrifice and service to God. I have to constantly question my own motive and tendency to be what I call a “glory thief”. It’s here I’ve discovered a key:
The most successful writers I see out here are those who’ve released themselves to God’s agenda for their craft and are used by Him to constantly draw the gaze of their audience upward.
It’s found in seeing that God has given each of us a circle of influence and a voice or platform to speak and minister from– wherever our gifts lie. It looks different from person to person but His message is always the same:
“Return to Me.”
We are voices in the wilderness crying out in and through our ridiculously ordinary circumstances and our fiery trials, proclaiming the great things God has done and is doing.
I don’t expect the struggle against people pleasing will get any easier. Even writing this, I’ve wrestled with fear of offending those I’ve come to love and had five other “false starts” on more “pleasing” topics that hit “dead end” fast.
This was His message for me and was confirmed recently as I sat around a table with some people I dearly love. The conversation came around to me and mustering up the courage I shared my “BIG NEWS”:
I’m (slowly) writing a book.
With unmistakable disdain one asked if it was going to be “anything like my blog”. Another said outright they’d soon be sorting my book with all the others in the reject bin at the bookstore where they work.
Sting and rejection?
Yes, and no. Because in that moment I saw the greater spiritual battle which is not fought against the flesh and blood pieces of my heart gathered with me around that table. No, this battle is against a DEFEATED foe who wishes to squash my worship of God but it
and will not
shut me up.
Because my friends, my name is Lorretta Stembridge. I’m a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and I am a recovering people pleaser who now lives, breathes and has her being in seeking only to please God and love His people.
I wish only the same for you.