Summary: Teach the congregation to break free of the need to please others.
Falling Prey to the Popularity Trip
14 The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. 15 Then I said to myself, "As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?" So I said to myself, "This too is vanity." 16 For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die!
I'll admit it if you will–I like people to like me. I'll even go further if you will–it bothers me when they don't.
Don't get me wrong. I don't consider myself a people pleaser–someone who will do anything to please others, but deep down inside, I want you to like me. I don't suppose there is anything wrong with wanting to be popular, but it is easy to get snared in the popularity trap.
There is a difference between a normal desire to be liked and an unhealthy compulsion to do anything to please others. Those caught in the popularity trap believe the myth: "I will be a worthy person if I am popular." When you really believe you can please everyone and that by doing so they will like you, you're in the trap.
• Do you find yourself always doing "favors" for others?
• Do people seem to take you for granted?
• Have you never learned to say no to anyone?
Wanting others to like you so you can like yourself has some serious draw backs. The very desire promotes unhealthy relationships and unhealthy responses. In the name of popularity, more than one person has done self destructive things to please others. Things like promiscuous behavior, drugs, etc. Those caught in the trap may respond to others by:
• Getting Angry toward those who take them for granted.
• Comply with any desire of the "right" people.
• Avoid people fearing they will reject them.
• Reject other people before they can reject them.
• Control or dominate other people so they cannot reject them.
• Become Depressed because "no one likes them."
The reality is that you cannot please everyone. Some people are going to like you or not like you no matter what you do. The key question is, who should you try to please?
Certainly we should please God. Paul wrote, Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Is Paul recommending that we not work on our relationships? No, but he does give perspective to the issue. Ultimately we must please God. If doing God's will causes some people not to like you, then forget about pleasing them and please God.
Let me ask the question another way. When does pleasing others please God?
Certainly God is not pleased when we've fallen into the popularity trap and devote ourselves to indiscriminately trying to please everyone. Then who deserves our attention?
Take a moment to look at the graphic in your sermon guide. Notice that the spectrum on the top shows your degree of popularity and the spectrum on the side plots the purity of motives.
In the bottom right hand corner are the people that like you for the right reasons. Their motives are good. They don't like you so they can get something from you–they know you well and like you for who you are. These are the best relationships we'll ever have. They deserve as much attention as we can give them.
In the top right hand corner are the people that like you for the wrong reasons. Their motives are poor. Perhaps they like you because of a position you hold or because they perceive that being your friend will advance their agenda or that they can get something from you. Maybe you are part of their "network." These people never really try to get to know you or appreciate you as a person, they are "users," who will like you, but want something in return. These relationships deserve little attention.
Look at the top left hand corner. These are the people that don't like you for the wrong reasons. You may never be able to figure out why, but they never really gave you a chance. Perhaps you remind them of someone they didn't like, or you have a personality clash. Maybe they are the manipulative, controlling type of person that don't like anyone with their own mind. Regardless, they don't like you and you probably will never be able to change their opinion.