You Can't Please Everyone!
Luke 7:31-35: "Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation, and to what are they like?
are like unto children that sit in the marketplace, and call one to another; who say,
We piped unto you, and ye did not dance; we wailed, and ye did not weep.
John the Baptist is come eating no bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a demon.
The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man,
and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
And wisdom is justified of all her children.'"
Could it be that you are an approvalholic.
If you need two or three strong approvals from someone else before five o'clock in the evening,
that may be a danger sign suggesting that you are on your way to becoming an approvalholic.
Soon, you hardly will be able to get through the day without someone's approval.
It may start early in the morning, even before breakfast.
You can scarcely get the day going without someone's assurance that you are very pleasing.
Your nerves are shaky until you have that first approval.
Look at Luke 7:32: " We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you,
and ye have not wept."
Jesus was displaying a bit of humor because it was obvious that these Pharisees didn't like
John the Baptist, who was an ascetic.
John kept to himself a great deal, and liked the desert.
He was a lonely prophet.
The Pharisees didn't like Jesus, who was eating and drinking with the publicans and the sinners
and mixing with people in the city.
There was nothing ascetic about Jesus.
Jesus was telling these people that they were hard to please.
He pointed it out through a story, saying they are like children of this generation
who cannot agree on a game.
One group wishes to play a wedding, and the other wishes to play funeral;
and neither proposal is mutually acceptability.
No suggestion pleases them.
You Can't Please Everyone!
An old fable from the past tells about an elderly man who was traveling with a boy and a donkey.
As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind.
The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding,
so to please them, he climbed up on the animal's back.
When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk
while he enjoyed the ride.
So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal's back and continued on his way.
In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk,
and the suggestion was made that they both ride.
So the man climbed on, and they set off again.
In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey
because he was made to carry two people.
The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.
There are some people you can never please.
One thing approvalholics need to understand it is that there will be some days when
they're not going to get all the approvals they need.
There will be some people whom we can never please.
I read about a wife who was going to do anything she could to please her husband -- just once.
He was the kind of man who only comments when something is wrong,
and never when something is right.
But on this particular day, she intended to please him.
She got up early, and asked him: "Dear, what would you like for breakfast?"
He answered, "Two eggs, one fried, one scrambled, toast and coffee."
She hurried to the kitchen and worked hard at making a memorable breakfast for him;
one he would never forget.
She set the table with special care, hurried out to the garden, and picked fresh flowers
for the vase on the table, and then she called him, "Honey, breakfast is ready."
He came shuffling through the door and sat down.
She stood beside him with anticipation, waiting for a complement or some word of approval.
The word came, but it was not approving.
He said: "You did it again! You scrambled the wrong egg."
There are some people who can never be pleased.
There are many people just like that man.
You can do 99 things right, but if you do just one thing wrong, that will be the only one
that he remembered.
It bothers us when someone obviously doesn't approve of us.
We wonder why?
The truth is that probably that person doesn't know why he doesn't approve of us.
There are a thousand associations that crisscross in the mind to make one's actions unexplainable.
Something triggers the subconscious and creates the signal to reject.
We offered warmth, but we receive coldness. Why?
We ask what is so unpleasing about us.
Remember the little poem:
" I do not like thee Dr. Fell,
The reason I cannot tell,
But this I know and know full well
I do not like thee Dr. Fell."
That may come as a rude awakening, but the fact is that some people are not going to like us.
We will never please them.
It should be helpful to know that.
It may be your problem or it may be their problem.
The reason we can't please everybody is that they have their own subjective reasons
for being pleased or displeased that are completely beyond our control.
We also must realize that a lot of people are mixed up, and that you gotten caught
in the flow of their resentment and bitterness that they themselves don't understand very well.
It is obvious that Jesus was not too bothered by the fact that He was displeasing the Pharisees.
His sense of humor prevailed, and at the same time He poked a little fun at them.
He said, "You did not like John who came with an altogether different style of life from mine,
and you don't like me, and you are just like children that no game pleases."
In fact, Jesus could not have been who He was if He had gone about pleading
for approval all the time.
The ministry of Jesus was revolutionary and disturbing.
He didn't go into a town and say, "Please approve of me," but rather, He said,
"Hear me, I come to speak truth."
Everywhere Jesus went, people were bothered, lives were touched and changed.
So, there are some people you can never please.
There are some people who are too pleasing.
There is so much wasted energy when we are always trying to be pleasing.
Especially, when we are working to promote some false image of us so that people will like us,
and then, wear ourselves out to be sure that image is projected correctly.
There is nothing more tiresome than trying to maintain an image that we want to project.
There is a lot of suffering and pain involved in dealing with the real self.
So, we may choose to remain immature, and try to maintain an image that we believe
will bring us approval from others.
So, we continue to give insincere flattery, the saccharine smile, and the cowardice of refusing
to say what we really feel.
Such people go through life acting the way people want them to act.
The person who is too pleasing is always trying to prove something.
In order to approve of himself, he goes through life trying to prove something to others.
He is not sure he is a nice person until someone else says that he is.
Psychologists call this living under the tyranny of the "should demands" of others.
It leads to a stereotyped response.
The individual doesn't deal with personal inner feelings, thoughts, and interests.
Soon there is alienation and he experiences himself as a spectator.
There is an emptiness because he has not actualized his real self.
There is no reality; there is only imitation.
So, what happens to the person who is always trying to be pleasing?
He realizes that he has been living somebody else's life instead of his own;
therefore, there is a despair over failure to actualize his unique self.
He has been too busy with the self-image, leaving no time for his true self.
He wants to create a pleasing self-image so that he will not be disapproved of,
because to be disapproved of brings about guilt, and he doesn't like to feel guilty.
So, while he avoids guilt on one hand by having approval, he finds despair on the other hand
because there is a self within him that he cannot reveal.
John McMurray says: "What other significance can our existence have than to be ourselves
fully and completely."
So, the person too interested in pleasing his overly concern about consequences
and approval that he will not find the fulfillment of his own unique, individual life.
The guilt of the unlived life must be dealt with.
Another kind of guilt comes into play.
The Gestalt therapists call it, the guilt of a un-lived life.
People reach the point of feeling so guilty that they do not have the courage to express their true self.
We see ourselves in the stands, watching the game of life.
We see ourselves on a puppet stage with other people pulling our strings.
We cry out, "Oh, that is not me, that is not me," and at the same time
being afraid that it is.
You may dream that part of "Death of a Salesman" when Willie, who was pleasing to so many,
and thought he had so many friends, died.
He always wanted approval.
But his son, walking away from that grave, said, "He never knew who he was."
Some people are too pleasing, and in trying to save themselves, they lose their sense of self.
We must learn that there can be acceptance without approval.
Our problem is that we often think that if we accept, then we approve.
We have been in religious traditions where we felt we had to approve everything about our lives.
We didn't want to bring into awareness anything that we couldn't approve.
So, we built idealized images because we could not tolerate any disapproval.
This idealized image is quite different from the actual self because the actual self
is full of mistakes and faults.
One cannot live very long with qualities of which he cannot approve;
so he flees to an image of self-adoration.
There is no growth in this kind of arrangement.
There is a fixed state representing the self that can be accepted, while the real self
that is not always approved of, is not dealt with.
Therefore, there is a hindrance to growth, there is a block, and there is stagnation.
The only way for growth to come about is for the idealized image to be shattered.
And this is so painful that, instead of dealing with our actual life where there are many faults,
we continue to create a more perfect idealized image.
We continue perfecting an image instead of dealing with the real self.
We do this because we think we cannot tolerate disapproval of ourselves.
In the musical, "Charlie Brown", Charlie sings, "I am awful glad I am me."
It would be good that everyone could be a Charlie Brown and realize we can accept ourselves
without approving of everything.
You can't please everyone!
And can be very frustrating to even try to do so because it's impossible.
The truth of the matter is, even if we could please everyone, we shouldn't.
In fact, trying to please others can distract us from the One we should be pleasing, if we're not careful.
Though Paul was certainly mindful of the feelings of others, he wrote:
"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men?
If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10, NIV)
All of us need acceptance, but real and final acceptance comes through the power of God.
When we realize that God has accepted the unacceptable, then we know we don't have
to prove anything or have approval.
God accepts us even when He doesn't approve of us.
He does this because He offers us divine forgiveness.
Through His forgiving grace we have the courage to accept ourselves in return.
The power to say, "Yes," to ourselves comes from beyond us.
Because God has said "Yes" to us, we overcome our self-hate and our self-contempt.
This is the glorious freedom of forgiveness.
This acceptance is not based on how good we are or how much we are approved.
It is offered,
It is given.
It is an act of God's grace.
God is saying, "Yes," to who we are.
Once we say, "Yes," to ourselves, we can bring into awareness that total experience of our lives,
and we can deal with these experiences, and then, we will find the freedom to grow.
This is what the New Testament is saying to us.
God is the Father, and we don't have to prove our worth to earn His love.
He is a Father who loves us in order to make a us worthy.
God accepts us in love.
Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L. White