A few weeks ago my wife and I heard a captivating interview on Christian radio in the car. We bought her book and I’m reading it now, Brenda finished it yesterday. Stripped. When God’s Call Turns from “Yes!” to “Why Me”?
In chapter four she captures in just three sentences a concept I’ve discussed with several in ministry over the years. My friends and I have talked for hours, sometimes without coming to any conclusions, and she encapsulates it in one short paragraph:
Nothing will steal your joy like a life that is dedicated to pleasing people. Nothing will break God’s heart more than your persistence to appease others. God never intended for us to live like that.
Lina Abujamra, Stripped, p 85
I’m a typically joyful soul. My energy is contagious when things are going well, and I can usually encourage people to pull-through when things are tough for a little bit. But I know the times when I faked it, even if no one else does. They were times of stolen joy. I stopped reading and thought back. Quite a few of those joyless days (or longer) came as a result of trying to please someone. I can point to times when in trying to keep people happy, sometimes one, sometimes a few, I forfeited my own sense of joy. I can remember cases where it was a whole congregation (good luck with that, Phil), other times when it was a smaller group (a committee or a few people of influence), still others when in trying to please just one individual, I forfeited the joy God intends to characterize my life.
Granted, there’s a fundamental difference between serving people and pleasing people, and I’ll be thinking on that for a while. But I’d like the rest of my life to be characterized by genuine joyfulness; constant, defying circumstance, honoring God. “What do YOU like? What do YOU want, Lord? Let’s please YOU first and foremost.”
It’s Something to ponder whether you read Stripped or not.
If this has piqued your interest, here’s a link to help you find it: http://preview.tinyurl.com/loco5qc