Don’t be driven by what others think of you

Don’t be driven by what others think of you

All of us care what people think of us. Let’s be honest. We are built up by praise and torn down by criticism. And even when others do not tell us what they think of us, we look to see where we think we fit with those we know. How does our lifestyle compare to others in our street or our workplace? How does our service at church compare to other people? How do our clothes compare, or our car, or our children’s achievements?

Social media amplifies all of this. When our friends post the best parts of their lives online, our own ordinariness looks kind of bland. When the beautiful people of this world dominate our Instagram feed, we notice our own wrinkles and imperfections more clearly. Comparison rarely ends in more godliness. We either become envious of others or proud of ourselves, neither of which glorify God.

Our aim in life as Christians, of course, is to bring God honour and glory. It is not the opinion of others that should motivate us. Paul consistently points to this in his letters. Why should we work? Because we serve Christ, not our boss (Eph 6:5-9). What should we consider when it comes to matters of eating and drinking? Whatever you choose, do it to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). What all Christians look to in the future is God our Father welcoming us with, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into your Master’s happiness”.

Now, it is possible to take this the wrong way. As in, to have the attitude that we couldn’t care what anyone thinks of us. We can be as abrasive and difficult as we like, because as long as I trust in Jesus, the rest doesn’t matter. That cannot be right! We are to love God and our neighbour, and we are to strive to show that love in practical ways. Yet we must not do any of this with the aim of being thanked or noticed or praised; it is done for God.

Paul lists one qualification for elders that the man must have a good reputation with outsiders (1 Tim 3:7). This means that our reputation with others is not something to dismiss. If a person is known as a godly and faithful person, even by those who do not believe, that brings glory to God.

In the end, what matters here is what drives us and our actions and our thinking. If we are sincerely trying to honour God, some will respect that, others will mock us (1 Peter 4:4). We must be prepared to be mocked if we are living and thinking in ways that aim to honour God.

Is people pleasing a problem for you? It is for almost everyone. What can you do about it? It will help to notice when you are motivated by what others think of you. And when you notice this, immediately pray about it. Ask God to give you the right motivation, to love God first and care what others think second.

And reflect on whether your whole life is built on what others expect of you. Can you think of any decisions you have made that honour God but your family disagreed with? Can you think of actions you have taken that were not easy or popular but were important in God’s sight? If honouring God truly comes first, our lives should be full of things that make no sense to outsiders but make perfect sense to God.

Love God with all your heart first. Then love your neighbour as yourself. Be driven by love for God, not what your neighbour thinks of you.