“When we had to rate ourselves on things we struggle with, ‘Opinions of Others’ was one of the things I rated the highest,” I said at Bible study a couple weeks ago.
My friend asked rhetorically, “Is there anyone who DOESN’T struggle with that??”
It’s true. I’m not sure if men struggle with it, but I know we women tend to worry about what others think of us.
A few years ago, I used to obsess over whether people thought I was pretty, funny, charming, clever, and whether I could convince them that I was pretty much perfect. God has done some serious work on my heart over time, and I don’t care about those kinds of opinions anymore. I don’t need people to think I’m pretty or funny or charming, and I don’t want anyone to think I’m perfect, because then I couldn’t show them how very much I need God in all of my weakness.
But…that doesn’t mean I don’t care what people think of me. There are certain opinions of me that I truly hope people will have. I want people to think I love God with all my heart and that I love people well. I want people to think I’m a good Bible study leader, a good preschool teacher, a good wife, a good mom, a good friend…. I don’t think it’s wrong to want to shine in these things, and to be “good” at them, but I do think it’s wrong for me to worry about impressing others.
A few weeks ago after church, I had this nagging feeling in my gut. I felt antsy and unsettled. I kept thinking back over the discussion we had that morning in our adult Sunday school class. I kept thinking, “Did I talk too much? What did people think of the things I said? What if I’m annoying in class? Or maybe they all think my faith in Jesus is so impressive! Do they think it’s awesome how I lead Women’s Bible Study on Wednesdays?...”
These thoughts were making me feel yucky. That’s the word that came to mind. So I decided to tackle it in prayer. God and I needed to address it. I went to my room and said, “OK, God, let’s talk about this. Why do I feel so yucky?”
After listening to the Lord and analyzing my anxious thoughts, I realized that I was caught up in trying to impress others. This is not where God wants my focus to be. 1 Thessalonians 2:4b says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”
So my first step was that I recognized a LIE from the enemy: I need other Christians to be impressed by my passion for Jesus and impressed by the success of my ministry.
My second step was to tear down that lie with the TRUTH. So I considered, what Scripture would I use every time I was tempted to wonder whether others are impressed by what I say or do? Colossians 3:23-24 came to mind quickly:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Then I imagined that as I went about my ministry, especially in Bible study, that I would remember Whom I am serving, and remember that I am a daughter of the King, a princess. I serve and speak and lead because I am HIS. I imagined a delicate, invisible crown on my head as I do all things, for HIM ALONE.
Then I suddenly thought, what if I had a ring that looked like a crown….?
A few clicks of my phone and I found a tiny silver crown ring.
It arrived in the mail a few days ago. I think it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful to look at. And it’s a beautiful reminder to keep my motives pure.
It has helped me this week when I start to worry what others think. I worry if they’re impressed. And I have to stop myself. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” I don’t need to impress God. He loves me simply because I am His.
Or I worry if anyone is upset with me. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” God is not upset with me. He gives me grace.
The truth of His Word frees me. I am His. And I am thankful.