Field Notes From A Prayer Warrior

“I’m definitely a people pleaser. I like people to be happy around me and be comfortable. I go out of my way, sometimes to a fault, to make sure everyone is okay.”

–Ken Jeong

Shelbo, be still, shut up, and know that I am God.

–from my journal

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

–Hebrews 11:6

“Hi, my name is Shelbo, and I’m a people pleaser.”

“Hi, Shelbo!”

It took me decades to figure out how detrimental my people pleasing was to my mental, emotional, and even physical well-being (that ‘the-body-keeps-the-score’ thing). Frankly, it wasn’t super helpful to the intended recipients either. On top of all my back-bending and hoop-jumping (and often, hidden resentment), they weren’t getting the “authentic me.” This approach wasn’t sustainable, nor was it part of God’s plan. I had a choice to make.

Example: I’m a morning person. I was a middle-school teacher. How do you think those adolescents responded to my joyful, can-do attitude, first period of the day? They sat contentedly with huge smiles on their faces, that’s how (as they envisioned Wile E. Coyote dropping an anvil on my head)…

And my sweet 6 AM Life Group! That Mexican jumping bean exuberance is a bit much before coffee…

So, do I squelch that sunshiny spirit, in the spirit of keeping everyone untroubled and, um, less annoyed?


“Woooo!!!! Yippeeeeeee!!!!”

There are enough subdued, frequently grumpy people in the waking hours. That’s their job. Not mine.

Things really only go the way they’re supposed to (God’s way) when we’re focused on pleasing Him, not others. He’ll let me know when I need to tone it down…

“Yip…I mean…good morning. Have an awesome day, buddy. Love ya!”

Despite these inroads, that disease to please, “to be liked,” is still there, flitting in the shadows.

Recently, I’d been talking to my Lord, and He concluded, apparently, that I required some extra attention in this area, some additional training, the spiritual version of physical therapy…STAT!!!

There were three, THREE!, people I had to call. These conversations were not going to be pleasant. There was a strong possibility that I would disappoint, offend, anger. I’d done my darnedest to avoid the unavoidable. I so desperately wanted there to be another solution (or, preferably, an escape).

Action kills fear.

My first action was (finally! sayeth the Lord) to kneel in prayer…

Then…rest in Him.

And…shut up.

Listen…no…REALLY listen.

You know what? It all. went. fine. All my worst-case scenarios…not even a shade of a hint.

Big shocker there…NOT.

One by one, we knocked them out. Me and my Father. Together. With love and compassion. No hard feelings on either side. He opened up their hearts and minds and supplied me with the right and proper words. He came and He brought it. In abundance.

In my desire to please Him…He is there to help…if only I ask.

People pleasers of the world…you are not alone.

And you can overcome.

1 Thessalonians 2:4–But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God, who tests our hearts.

We are not called to please others, but to help them…

To share the light and the love and the news of the One who saves…




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