Both the people-pleaser and the rebel are alike in that neither are free. They are probably the saddest, most miserable people on earth, because they are slaves to their own imaginations. The former is a slave to other people’s expectations (and spends his/her life TRYING to conform), while the other runs in fear of other people’s expectations (and spends his/her life TRYING to be different). Neither knows nor desires to know who they really are, because their true fear is of failure, and of being a disappointment to themselves and others.
The emphasis is laid on trying because that is the one constant of their lives… They are perpetually carrying a burden, trying to be somebody, without actually letting go and being just as they are. The sad thing is that the conformist never truly pleases anyone, but alienates him/herself from true friends and is miserable. The rebel may succeed in defying people’s expectations for a while, but people adapt their expectations, and he/she soon realises a need to rebel even more. He/she still ends up dancing to the tune of people’s expectations, and is miserably lonely in that no one truly understands him/her.
I have, at one time in my life, been a people-pleaser, and at another, a rebel. I thank God that I’ve discovered what it is to be free. Most people, if not everyone, starts life trying to please others. We are taught and expected to conform from birth. Those who do so, and achieve a level of status and popularity through conformity, remain so, defending their position and the status quo vehemently. They sing the popular song, resist change, and never do anything original for fear of rocking the boat. Now those who discover early on that they are ‘different’ or fail at pleasing people, in their pre-emptive strike against the world, become rebels!
The rebel feels that they have matured, and are no longer controlled by the world. They often sit in judgment of it, even though they are in fear of it. While conformists are delighted by people’s praises, rebels are delighted in the ‘shock’, insults and ‘attack’ they receive. It makes them feel important to know that people are talking about them, and they imagine that they have run way ahead of the world, but can’t help looking back to see who’s following. You see, they still just want to be accepted, and be popular, even if it’s for a ‘bad’ thing. They envy those who have conformed and attained status, because they also want STATUS.
God is not pleased with either! In fact, God detests the people-pleasers, who seek the praise of men, but not from Him. He knows they cannot amount to much, while they remain so oriented, and will be loose canons and traitors, because they can’t suffer for right. Their status will always be of greater value to them, even though they are truly poor. Now, the rebel is probably the most deluded. He is still a child, seeking acceptance, but pretends that he is matured and his own person. Such a person is regarded as ‘double-minded’, and the Bible says that ‘he is unstable in all his ways’ (Jam 1:8). He doesn’t actually stand for anything, just against everything! If he was tempted of the enemy to receive what he truly desires – status – he too would fall.
To my Christian brothers and sisters, we are not called to be conformists or rebels. In fact, the Bible tells us that since we accepted Christ, we have a new mould to fill…the old has passed away. This is not a new burden to fit in to the stereotype of the ‘born again’ Christian. No, this is a call to know oneself, as a new creature, born in the image of a loving God, and ALLOW yourself to live up to this new identity (2 Cor 5:17). You don’t have to try. You are Christian. As some have said, ‘let go and let God’!
You might find that you’ve been trying so hard to be Christian, that you feel so unChristian most of the time. You might live under the condemnation of not being good enough. Or maybe, you know you are Christian, but still try to be different, sort of a unique Christian. So, you try to keep your individuality by hanging on to the old nature, which like dead skin, is falling away. You want to prove you are free and not a robot, so you don’t let the Holy Spirit do its work of transforming you (Rom 12:2). You love your friends in the world more than God. But the Bible says such ‘friendship with the world is enmity towards God’ (Jam 4:4).
You are like a person at a party, whose body wants to dance to the music, but for fear of people’s opinion and judgment, you resist the music. Christ lives in you now, let Him reign (Rom 6:11-13). Don’t resist the Holy Spirit’s influence. It is truly the only thing that will bring out your true personality and potential, and you will be free to do what you really want to do (and was created to do) – love God and others. You have a purpose to fill on Earth, and you can’t achieve it while you’re enslaved to worldly expectations or even on the run from it.
It is an exciting and amazing journey following God – no two are the same. You MUST find out who you are, and God’s purpose for your life, and don’t be afraid to live up to it. God did not call you to failure, but has every desire that you achieve the purpose He has prepared for you – and will help you! If you have not made the bold and wise decision to follow God, because you are afraid of what people may think, or you don’t want to be controlled by anyone, know this – you are already controlled by your fear! Break free, and live the life of a real individual. Jesus can set you free (John 8:36, Matt 11:28-30) – try Him!
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