My friend Rich Dixon helps us think about changing our minds about measuring up.


I’ll bet I’m not the only person who doesn’t like disappointing others.

I spent 35 years in classrooms, and perhaps my first lesson as a new teacher was that someone would always be displeased. No matter how hard I tried, some students or parents were unhappy.

I thought I was supposed to please everyone. Eventually I understood the futility of reacting to every set of external expectations.

Of course we need to listen empathetically, to understand and learn from others’ perspectives and ideas. But at some point, we either wander in the endless maze of people-pleasing or…what?

“Get over it” isn’t enough. As we move into a new year, what’s a positive way to approach this dilemma?

In my teaching, I realized I needed a set of principles. I needed to clearly define what I was doing and why I was doing it. And then move forward, always willing to listen and adjust when evidence demands, but unwilling to succumb to the fickle whims of popularity.

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As followers of Jesus, we might find similar guidance in these words:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

What if we turned from people-pleasing toward simply doing good, perhaps following the simple guidance from Isaiah and Micah? And before you think this is some sort of underhanded, guilt-laden push to create your own nonprofit or move to another country, consider how Jesus encapsulated all of scripture:

“Love God. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

Bottom line – wecan’t please everyone. Someone will be disappointed.

What if we simply do our best to do good, love God, and love our neighbor? What if we simply follow Jesus and trust Him for the outcome?

The time is always right to do what is right. – MLK