Another Look by David Faust
My wife and I are the proud owners of a little dog. Our pint-sized long-haired Chihuahua is so small I can carry her in the palm of my hand. Full-grown, she weighs four pounds, six ounces.
You know you own a small dog when she has to wear a bell so no one steps on her, and when you only have to buy a bag of dog food once every six weeks. You know you own a small dog when you can’t let her go outside alone because a hawk might carry her away, and when swallowing a button presents a
Our dog doesn’t even bark. She just makes a quiet coughing sound as she clears her throat. (If a burglar breaks into the house, what kind of watchdog goes “Ahem”?)
I thought it would be funny to name our little dog Spike, Killer, or some other manly-sounding name, but my wife prevailed and we named her Nugget.
My big-dog-loving friends tease me, but I don’t care. Whether anyone else understands it or not, my wife and I like our little dog. Nugget is tame, friendly, playful, quiet, and good with the grandkids. God made her to be a small dog. If she tries to act like a German Shepherd or a Great Dane, she will look ridiculous. She needs to be what God made her to be.
Why do you and I try to act like big dogs? Why do we worry so much about what others think of us and our opinions? Why do we try so hard to impress the crowd, make names for ourselves, and rub elbows with “important” people? Why do we pursue the elusive goal of popularity?
Somewhere deep inside of us there’s a
people-pleasing gene—a natural desire to be liked, accepted, and approved. We want to be big dogs, leaders of the pack. People-pleasing, though, is a dangerous habit if it makes us ashamed to acknowledge our faith in Christ (Matthew 10:32, 33), as if we love “praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:43). When push comes to shove, are we willing to say with Peter, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29)? Have we learned to build up our neighbors instead of building up ourselves (Romans 15:1-3)? Do we identify with Paul’s goal expressed in 1 Thessalonians 2:4? “We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.”
People-pleasing is an impossible quest, a dead-end street, a long ride to nowhere. If we try to please everyone, and follow anyone, we’re sure to upset someone, and satisfy no one. Our goal should be to please God. Instead of trying to impress others with our appearance, why not focus on offering our bodies (small, large, shapely, homely, whatever they are) as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1)? Instead of worrying about what others think, why not focus on what others need—doing good and sharing what we have, “for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16)?
If you struggle to overcome the people-pleasing gene, here’s a nugget of truth to consider: Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be true to your convictions. Stand up for what you believe. As long as God is pleased, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks—even if you’re just a four-pound pup the Master holds in the palm of his hand.