A few weeks ago, I found myself trying to convince my six-year-old that she could not walk the mile to swimming lessons with her swimming cap on her head.
“Why not, Mom?” she asked. “Is it because you think people will think I look silly?”
“Well, yes,” I admitted.
“I don’t care if people think I look silly,” was her nonchalant response.
Of course I smiled. And with the smile came the realization that I had overreacted. Again.
The same sin in my heart manifests itself in a myriad of different masks – but the substance from which the masks are formed is the same. They are all moulded from a plaster called pride.
I want others to think well of me, to be impressed with my parenting skills, to compliment my children’s behavior.
How many times have I scolded my nine-year-old because his shirt was not tucked in, or reprimanded my four-year-old for not wiping the toothpaste off his face like I had asked him to? Tidy appearances are not unbiblical, but what is my motive for such standards? Truthfully, it is to make a good impression on others. At its root is the desire to please people.
If my daughter is desperate to go to church so she can learn more about Jesus, does God care whether her socks match? 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
My primary concern should not be what other people think of me or my children, but whether my heart is right with God.
Biblically speaking, I should not place a desire to please and impress others over and above my desire to please my King. I’ve been convicted by Galatians 1:10 – “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2:4-5 are equally convicting: “…We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.”
When my daughter revealed her indifference toward the opinion of others, part of me was glad that I have not yet scarred her completely with my sinful tendency to want to please people. Another part of me wondered how long it will take before her child-like naivety wears off and she becomes more aware of peer pressure and wanting to fit in.
With this in mind, I ask myself: “How can I, as a parent, be proactive and help to protect my children from succumbing to the wants of society as I am so programmed to do?”
For a start, I can help them by ensuring that they are raised with a biblical view of themselves.
Each one of us is a wretched sinner, utterly helpless to do or be anything good without the help of the Holy Spirit. Having said that, it is astounding to think we have been made by God in His image. He Himself knitted us together, He knew us before we were even conceived, His hand formed us and shaped us exactly how He wanted us to be.
If I truly believed that, I would not sigh with such agitation on Sunday mornings when my kids drip syrup onto their church clothes. If I really believed that, I would happily let my daughter walk in public with a swimming cap on her head, as long as her heart is right with God.
By Kate MotaungLeave a Comment
This is such a wonderful message….thank you, Kate! Such a crucial reminder of the importance of only trying to please God and not always be people-pleasing–but so hard to do so often! Thanks for the reminder given to you by your daughter! Yes, a heart that is right with God–that’s what counts the most, truly is important! Blessings!
Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) says
Yes I agree! It is so easy to get caught up in the people pleasing game and lose sight of the only one we are here to please – Jesus! Your daughter has such a sweet heart.
Beth Williams says
Amen to your daughter. Who cares if she has a swim cap on? I often have to remind myself of that in church. The fact that people are “in church” hearing God is much much more important than the clothes or shoes they wear!
I, myself, have never really cared what people think of me. God made me this way and if you don’t like it then talk to HIM!
OH! I needed this one! I am constantly trying to please my brother and I cannot. I cannot please my daughter and there is conflict all the time. I believe it’s better to please Jesus Christ than men. So off I go to do what is right. Thanks for this post!
walking in swim caps and two different socks « Ruby Bites Back says
[…] It’s a serious, and largely depressing subject. But this wonderful post makes me laugh, and reminds me that the process of changing our focus from ourselves to God is a slow one, it’s a road we’re all on, and although we’ll never get there in this life, in heaven we’ll all be wearing toothpaste on our chins, walking down the road in swim caps, and flashing two different socks. Isn’t that great! Pleasing People […]
This is actually something that I have been wrestling with for a couple of months…my own motives of “why I do what I do”… am I trying to please God or others or me? I have always “marched to the beat of my own drum” and not followed the crowd… but, why?? for God or for how it “looked” to others… is it God’s reputation or my own that I am worried about… AND I now have 2 teenage sons and see so much of myself in their attitudes… they are really their own people… but why? is it really for God or for their reputations… more truths to dig through! Thank you for this today.
Thanks! This really resonated with me. I have struggled with this a lot as well. I call myself a recovering control freak. I had someone tell me once as we were beginning the process of support raising to head to the mission field that if our children were not well behaved, then churches would not support us. This one statement began a cycle of focusing on the outward rather than the inward. It has taken much time for the Lord to rid me of that and it still wants to crop its ugly head from time to time. These are great reminders for me of what is trully important.
Kim O. says
That your six- year old knew exactly what you were thinking is insightful and mature for her age. I have three daughters who are not walking with Christ and I blame much of this “societal” pressure, etc., yes, spawned on by me at times, a big reason for their attitudes and their hearts. If your daughter wants to walk with her bathing cap, by all means let her. It will build her character and allow her to stand strong.
Nasreen Fynewever says
Thank you for the great message of letting our pride fall away so that we can keep tending to our hearts’ alignment with God’s. You have beautiful perspective.
I agree. This is a beautiful perspective and one I sooo needed to hear. God convicts me of this often, and I hope the message will resonate more and more within me!
Don’t be so hard on yourself. We have to learn to conform to matter in this world. If your son knows all about Jesus but goes to spread the word with tooth paste around his mouth exactly who will be listening to the message and who will be thinking their own throughts about what is this man’s problem. Am I safe around him? It’s ok for a six year old to walk down the street with her swim cap on but if you accompany her with yours on…….well, you get my drift. Scientifically proven that tall attractive people are more successful in life than those who wear their swim cap with tooth paste around their mouth. Also proven that those who are tall and gorgeous win more souls to Chirst. Really! I have a friend whose daughter has her phd in religion but has green stuff growing on her teeth. She is at the mall every day preaching until she is thrown out. She looks creepy and scary and with her degree of mental illness we all wonder if she will snap. All that good education is for naught. Her heart for God is for naught. If she would brush those sickening teeth who knows what she could do for God. Childishness into adulthood is not a good thing. Children come to us like little animals and it’s our job to tame them. Keep up the good work, mama!
M Kathy King says
The bible also says, once we are saved, we are not “sinners” but now being forgiven, we are saved by Grace, Saints. That is the power of the precious cleansing Blood of Christ Jesus ~ Amen?!
Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says
The lessons I learn from my daughter, like this very one you described, blow my mind and pierce my heart on a regular basis. And for this particular lesson, my daughter’s obsession with wearing goggles ALL THE TIME, and her choice to wear the SAME DRESS every single Sunday to church, has shown me that letting her make those choices and be herself is, in the end, much better than making her fit into my idea of who she should be!