So much of what we feel is determined by the people around us. One of the toughest goals in life is to “not care” so much what people think and concentrate on our audience of ONE.
HE is the ultimate judge – and as long as HE is my joy, my strength, as long as HE is who determines what I do, where I go, who I listen to – well, that is what matters the most.
But we are on earth to disciple, to be in community, to have relationships. And part of determining God’s will can often involve the wisdom and guidance of mentors and spiritual authority in our lives.
So how do we keep from allowing people pleasing to overwhelm us? Being a recovering people pleaser, this is something I have considered and weighed in my mind for years.
The most practical, hands-on answer I have found is something I tell my high school students on a regular basis:
CHOOSE YOUR FIVE.
I remember the day very clearly. I was a freshman in high school and I had just been selected to play the female lead in the musical, Oklahoma! I was going to be Laurey.
I was elated, shocked, surprised – all the wonderful feelings that come with getting a lead in the ninth grade – or just getting a lead at all.
I can still see the hallway, the white floors, the feel of the cold steel rectangle on the bathroom door as I walked in. I can see the yellow bathroom stalls, me walking in and turning the lock, only to see my name written in black, loud Sharpie on the back of the swinging door. And accompanying my name were some not-so-nice words.
I was devastated. I had no idea what I had done to deserve it. It immediately deflated all the happiness I felt (yes, it often only takes one, small negative moment to suck out all the joy in your life).
Whenever I think of choosing five, I think of that story. Because if I would have grasped the concept when I was 14 years old, I wouldn’t have let it get to me so deeply.
At any time in our lives, we should be able to count on one hand (up to five) the people whose opinion could make or break it for us. Granted, there can always be others who contribute (bosses, colleagues, etc.) – but when you need wisdom, guidance, a really honest answer about if those words on the bathroom stall are TRUE about you, you head to your five.
So that way if someone spreads a rumor, talks behind your back, rips your character to shreds, you ask yourself if they are part of your five.
And if not, then don’t worry about it. Because what they say isn’t important. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
If you consistently hear those same rumors, character comments, and consider there might be some truth, check with your five. If you’ve chosen them correctly, they will tell you the honest truth. Then you can begin to make necessary changes in your life, growing with the healthy criticism instead of hurting and hiding from useless negativity.
Often a good portion of your five will involve family – a husband or wife, mother or father, perhaps even a grandparent, cousin, sibling. But it is also important to ALWAYS be mentoring someone and allowing someone to mentor you.
Mentoring sharpens your faith and increases your dependence on God.
Being mentored holds you accountable and challenges you to grow deeper in your relationship with God.
BOTH of these – having a mentor in your five and being in someone’s five – are excellent ways to choose joy in your relationships. Then when the stormy moments, wow stealers, and joy vacuums come along, you have community check points – people who can keep you from losing perspective in the grand scheme of things.
It’s important to remember that EVEN your five will disappoint you. They are fallible just like you. They are walking their own journey, seeking God’s will as they strive to go deeper and deeper with Him.
Because ultimately we always remember that above our FIVE is the TRUE ONE. That means keeping in the word and regular prayer time, worship, and small group or bible study. But God gave us the beautiful gift of community.
We just have to CHOOSE who will have the honor of pouring into our hearts and souls with significance.
And that means choosing your five.
Right now, friend. We always need to be intentional with our choices.
So write it down. Make a phone call. Write an e-mail.
For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
This devotional is part of a series following a Women’s Retreat I spoke at. This is a follow-up of our weekend themed CHOOSE. We talked about Choosing Surrender, Choosing Obedience, and Choosing Joy. I hope you enjoy this 5-day series and hopefully find hope in the Jesus who allows us to have a choice in our walk with Him.
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