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Love often calls us to sacrifice our personal preferences and desires to bring good to others. But good is not the same as merely making them comfortable and happy. And we’re no longer practicing love when we’re simply in a position of people pleasing and no longer advancing their true good.

To be sure, there are many times in which we’re being selfish and just looking out for our own interest. We demand our way without care or concern for the other. But the antidote to selfishness is the practice of true love and not merely people pleasing.

We engage in people pleasing when we do whatever it takes to keep others happy – accommodating ourselves, and our environment, to keep them free from pain and any discomfort. While this is appropriate in caring for a newborn, it stunts growth when this expectation is carried into the rest of life.

For instance, we’ve certainly missed the mark when we demand our way in marriage without also taking time to consider our wife’s point of view. But thoughtfully considering her perspective doesn’t mean we simply do whatever she says. While this might make things easier for a time, it does not ultimately serve the best interest of either one of us. Resentment grows in us and she misses the benefit of considering a different point of view. 

Of course, this plays out in friendship and parenting, with coworkers, and public discourse as well. In every relationship we must learn how to practice relational hospitality while still keeping an eye on providing the true good and not merely appeasing each other.

We invite much bitterness and immaturity when we attempt to bypass healthy conflict and simply settle for people pleasing.

In the end, sacrificial love is committed to bringing true good to others and not just going along to fake the peace. Be accommodating without letting people pleasing diminish your practice of true love. 

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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