Lesson Seven: Growing Beyond My Dysfunctional People Pleasing


Ask a people pleaser: Who is more likely to undermine Principle 13:35 in a church—someone with a forceful personality or a people pleaser? They would probably answer: The person with the forceful personality. But they would be wrong.

People pleasers can do as much harm to Principle 13:35 as those with forceful personalities. Maybe even more.

Learn how to keep your people pleasing tendencies from working against Principle 13:35.

People Pleasers

Here are a few habits to adopt to keep your people pleasing from becoming dysfunctional.

1. Own your hurt and the responsibility that it brings.

Yes, it’s their offense, but it’s your hurt. And your hurt requires that you manage it in healthy ways.

It’s never healthy to…

  • return evil for evil.
  • talk about your offender rather than talking to him or her.
  • pretend that you’re not hurt if you really are.

While the Bible tells us that it’s to a person’s glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11), that’s not true in every case. Sometimes you need to work through your hurt with your offender if you’re going to maintain Principle 13:35 in your church.

2. Show up and speak up.

How will forceful people (or anybody, for that matter) know when they’ve hurt you unless you tell them? That’s why you must show up and speak up.

Consider the benefits of showing up and speaking up.

  • You can help your offender to understand the impact that he or she is having on you.
  • You might help your offender to consider ways to relate better with others.
  • You might help your offender to become a better leader and servant of Christ.
  • You can gain practice in managing your hurts in healthy ways.
  • You’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you did your part in honoring Principle 13:35.

Sure, things don’t always go smoothly when you show up and speak up. But you don’t have to fear that. Every time you make a sincere attempt to show up and speak up, you’ll gain more confidence in managing conflict and relationships in healthy ways.

Don’t let setbacks keep you from honoring Principle 13:35.

3. Reject reactivity.

Reactivity keeps you from responding to hurt in heathy ways. Reactivity has two faces and is always dysfunctional.

Sometimes reactivity looks harsh. Harsh-looking dysfunction is easy to spot. Here are a few examples:

  • Yelling
  • Threatening
  • Name-calling
  • Cursing
  • Insults
  • Mocking
  • Pulling rank—misusing your power or authority to shut down communication
  • And more.

But other times, reactivity looks pleasant and is much harder to spot.

  • Stuffing feelings
  • Being passive-aggressive
  • Denial—pretending like everything is okay when it isn’t
  • Avoiding conflict—refusing to talk about a problem or to bring up anything that’s negative or difficult
  • Manipulation—indirectly trying to bring about a desired outcome
  • And more.

Reactivity is returning evil with evil, even if that evil has a smiley face!

4. Practice healthy communication skills.

Two key skills factor into healthy communication:

  1. Sharing your hurt in a way that you’ll be heard and understood.
  2. Managing things effectively if things start to derail.

We’ll examine these skills in detail in our next lesson.

In the meantime, consider this. It would be nice if everyone possessed sufficient self-awareness to know when they’ve hurt another. But that’s not the case. People often are clueless. That’s why the person who has been hurt owns the responsibility to communicate his or her hurt in a way that opens the door to healthy resolution. This goes a long way towards promoting Principle 13:35 in a church.

You can’t stop all offenses from coming. But you can decide how you’ll respond to them when they come. Either you’ll be reactive and fall into the Cycle of Dysfunction, or you’ll learn healthy ways of responding whenever you’ve been hurt. Learning healthy responses for managing hurts serves Principle 13:35 and promotes people’s growth—not just their growth but also yours.

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People Pleasers

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The Big Idea

People pleasers probably don’t realize that their habits can undermine creating and maintaining a Principle 13:35 culture in a church. By learning healthy conflict management skills, people pleasers can play a major role in promoting Principle 13:35 in their relationships.