From kindergarten to college, most of us desire to be liked. While the qualifications to be “cool” change significantly between elementary school and college, our desire to please people follows us regardless of age. Christians are often expected to be an extra degree of “nice,” and young women especially believe that if people don’t like them, they’re doing something wrong.
People like us because of many reasons—personality, interests, hobbies and shared memories among them. Unfortunately, some people will dislike us for these same reasons. It’s affirming to have the approval of others, but the approval of people is never completely secure.
This insecurity puts us in a precarious emotional position. We twist and dance and form ourselves into pretzels to keep approval in place, and in doing so, begin to lose a sense of who we are and what we believe. This is because forming ourselves for the approval of others leaves us looking more like them than like ourselves!
So here is the truth, girls: Not everyone will like you—and that’s okay!
We aren’t the only ones who struggle with people-pleasing. Some of the characters we meet in the Bible had this same problem—among them, Jesus’ own disciple, Peter. In Mark 15:66-72, Jesus had been arrested and all of His disciples had fled. Peter was following Jesus at a distance when a young girl said, “Weren’t you with that Nazarene, Jesus?” (v. 67). Peter denied even knowing Jesus—three times! Peter was more concerned with what people would think of him than what God thought of him in that moment.
Trying to please people makes us do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. We might dress or talk in a certain way to get the attention of guys. We might compromise our values to fit in with a certain crowd. Or we might change who we are in order to be liked. But in the end, “fitting in” isn’t what life is about. Life is about bringing glory to God and reflecting His love to all those around us—which we can’t do when our attention is focused on being liked.
Certainly, we should never be rude, obnoxious or mean to the people around us. Kindness and love go a long way in improving our relationships as a whole! But with some people, our best efforts will still never convince them to like us in the way we might wish. This is when we have to put our hope and security in God—not in being the most popular girl in school.
Depending on the approval of God enables us to be a version of ourselves that isn’t based on what our friends are doing or what the culture says is right. When you answer to God alone, you don’t have to worry about the opinions of people. You can simply follow Jesus—and be yourself. By seeking to please God, you won’t try to blend in with what is “cool” and “popular” because being loved and holy is so much more important.
And by looking to God, we become like Him. As we become more like Him, His love, joy and peace radiate out of us, making us more likeable women along the way! As Psalm 34:5 says: “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces will never be ashamed.” Paul echoed this in his letter to the Thessalonians, saying: “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT)
So girls, instead of trying to please the crowds, simply seek to the please the One who loves you best.