Some kids are tough to raise because they don’t particularly care whether they’re pleasing their parents or not. They do what they want when they want. Who cares whether Mommy and Daddy are happy with me? I’m happy with me, and that’s all that matters!
I wasn’t one of those little kids. I wanted to please people. Oh, my sin nature was quite robust, don’t get me wrong. But deep down my desire to be liked would always win out. It shamed me to know that Mommy and Daddy weren’t happy with me. I would do anything to get back into their good graces. And when all was made right, I couldn’t be happier.
That desire has never really left me. It’s a part of who I am. And as my experience has widened, that desire to be liked has expanded from Mommy and Daddy to close friends, to teachers, to just about anybody I really look up to. With anybody who has my respect and admiration, I can be almost painfully diffident. And I am not a diffident person by nature. Oh no. If you’re a jerk, or a moron, or you have styrofoam packing peanuts for brains, I’ll tell you. But a favorite songwriter? A favorite pastor? A much-loved singer? Gulp, gulp, timid whisper: “Um, excuse me…” That was me asking Steve Green for his autograph.
As I’ve become involved in blogging and the world of the Internet, I’ve discovered that making contact with your favorite singers or writers is much easier than I used to think. So one of the things I’ve tried to do is get involved in whatever Internet community they’ve built around themselves, leaving comments, expressing appreciation for what they write, thinking it’s an easy, painless way to make contact with them. “Just think, so-and-so is actually going to READ this comment! And he might even respond! How cool is that??”
Actually, I’ve learned it might not be so cool. In one case that was actually probably the least painful of my experiences in this area, I mingled a bit with an online community that was later revealed to be “for church leaders only.” (This after I had already been commenting for several months, because I posted something they disagreed with.) I got involved because their worship leader is one of my favorite singers, and I noticed that he would regularly post great stuff on the church’s blog. So I offered comments until I apparently wasn’t welcome anymore, and I was literally told, “If you are on a church team, we’re so sorry for the mistake and we’ll get things fixed. But if you aren’t, go away, you’re not part of the club.” Not in so many words, but that was basically it.
I never actually had contact with the worship leader himself, but the guy who wrote me was a close friend of his who was obviously speaking for him. So I left, not really broken-hearted but a bit saddened. Still, I kid you not, that very night I had a dream that I actually went to the worship leader’s church and got to meet him. He looked me in the eye, shook my hand firmly, called me by name, and simply said, “I know you, and I like you.” I said “You do?” He said, “Yes.” Eerily enough, a very similar scene played itself out nearly word-for-word between me and Michael Booth just a few weeks ago, with the happy difference that it was quite real and not a dream at all.
But as I said, that particular experience is just one pretty mild example. In other cases, I really have gotten my heart broken, because I’ve discovered what every crusty old lady under the sun could have told me: People can be jerks. People can be irrational. People can be arrogant. People can be manipulative. And sometimes they’re the very people you most wanted to please.
And you know what? It isn’t worth it. It isn’t worth it to seek out that approval and get yourself all worked up and excited only to get a nasty cold shock.
Have good role models. Have people you admire. And don’t feel shy about connecting with them, because it can prove to be very fruitful and rewarding. It has for me. Dianne Wilkinson, Terry Franklin, Ernie Haase, Michael Booth… connecting with people like these has borne wonderful fruit.
But at the same time, don’t invest yourself in those connections—your time, your energy, your emotion. Invest yourself in the people directly around you—your family, your friends. Invest yourself in your relationship with God. Do you want to please somebody? Seek to please Him.
I say this conscious of the fact that I have many miles to go myself in this area. Still, I’m offering it for what it’s worth because I know it’s the truth. Ladies, this is for you in particular. Guys… well, here’s a comedy routine just for you. (2:35 to 3:00 is especially pertinent.)