Lately, it seems as though many are overwhelmed. Pulled in a million directions, they feel stretched and tired. I get it. I’ve been there myself!
This week, I was struck by the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote to the church at Galatia: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? (Galatians 1:10). Isn’t it amazing that even the Apostle Paul wrestled with people pleasing? Most of us know in our hearts that we are not called to keep others happy. We’re called to live in the freedom of an unburdened life. But it’s a challenge, right? We’re called to love others as Christ loved them (John 15:12-13).
That’s where the rub comes. We want to love others as Christ loved them, but it can feel confusing. If people are unhappy with us, does it mean we aren’t loving them well? And shouldn’t we seek to meet the expectations of those we love? Ah, it can feel like such a conundrum.
As a natural people pleaser, here’s where I’ve landed.
3 Principles to Curb Feeling Overwhelmed
Worship God Above All Else! He is the one who bought my freedom with His blood. I owe Him everything! As I worship Him, His opinion becomes more important to me. As a result, I want to live my life in keeping with what’s written in Scripture. I find the more I worship Him each day, spending time in prayer, praise, and the Word, the more He clarifies His will for my life. Sometimes, His will involves me disappointing others. That’s always a bit challenging but, if I remember I am living for His applause alone, it becomes a bit easier. The same holds true for you. Set your heart to worship Him first. Every other area of your life will then flow out of that center.
Humbly Embrace Your Limits. Humility is always a challenge for us as humans. Right?! There’s always the pull to be more and do more than He calls us to do. We’re so good at rationalizing our need to be more. We want to help someone we love so we allow ourselves to be pulled more than we’re able to sustain. Our hearts justify us: “We’re just trying to love well because they need us.” Or, we want to succeed in our careers so we put in more hours than we should. We rationalize, “Well I just want to be responsible and do a good job.”
Friend, here’s the truth: when we overextend in one area, another area or relationship suffers. Part of living in the freedom God offers is humbly embracing our limits.
Jesus, though fully God, was also fully human. As a human, He had to embrace His limits. He had to live and minister within a 24-hour period. He had to embrace rest and time alone with the Father. I love the story told in Mark 1:35-39. After a full day of ministry, Jesus escaped to spend time alone with the Father. When the disciples came looking for Him they exclaimed, “Everyone is looking for you!” (Mark 1:37). Jesus calmly explained He was ready to leave and go to the next town. He didn’t even explain why He needed solitude. I find this passage so challenging. If Jesus had to embrace His human limits, so must we.
Ask a Few Good Questions. When the pull to people please is greatest, it is helpful to get alone and hold a “self-management” meeting. Ask yourself a few key questions. Here are a few examples:
- What relationships are most important to me and how am I using my time to prioritize those?
- What is my calling as a child of God? (God gives all of us gifts to be used for His purposes.)
- How can I pivot toward my life’s calling while still prioritizing those closest to me?
- What can I let go of in order to have more sustainable energy
Friend, God doesn’t call us to live in a state of being continually overwhelmed. When we put people-pleasing before Him, we end up living stressed-out lives.
Here is a prayer for those who are overwhelmed:
Lord, I feel like I am being pulled in a million different directions. Help me this day, to set my focus on You. Grant me the discernment to know what You are calling me to do and what You are calling me to let go of. Restore my joy, I pray, and help me to walk step by step in sync with You.