Book Review: Pleasing People: How Not To Be An “Approval Junkie” by Lou Priolo

Today’s guest blogger is Lesley Eischen. Lesley describes herself as a Christ following, Midwestern wife and homeschooling mom who enjoys learning as much as teaching.  With an affinity for ‘narrow passages’. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14 ESV You can find more of Lesley’s writing at Today’s blog is reposted with permission. 

“The motive of such an individual is identified in John 12:43: he ‘loved the approval of men rather than [or at least more than] the approval of God.’”
Consider this for a moment; you notice that familiar tension when you and your spouse have a decision to make about a loved one’s request and your spouse hasn’t come to the same conclusion as you. You become anxious about their decision. Maybe even angry. Their resistance is startling.
“He fears the displeasure of man more than the displeasure of God.”
You wonder how they could deny the request of someone you are pulled to appease. You might think their decline of accommodation is inconsiderate or perhaps obstinate. You might think they are trying to upset the person you are straining to pacify.
You start to doubt your viewpoint and become double minded. You worry you have displeased your spouse in addition to the loved one. You are simultaneously filled with frustration and wonder for the person who isn’t a people – pleaser.
This is only one scenario that might be an indication that a person is an approval junkie.
People – pleasers often presume others are wired as they are. So when they run headlong into someone who is not, it turns their mindset upside down and throws their people – pleasing throttle into overdrive.
“The love of man’s approval is inextricably bound to the fear of man’s disapproval.”
You will know who you inordinately want to please by who you can’t say ‘no’ to without unreasonable angst or fear of repercussions.
And it is the people – pleasers who will compromise – perhaps in detrimental ways. They will acquiesce – to feign peace. They can be manipulated – sometimes even allowing it, to avoid confrontation or conflict. They may even become the manipulator.
“We step over the line into sin when our hearts are governed by the desire to please people rather than by the desire to love God and neighbor.”
At the crux of people – pleasing is FEAR and PRIDE. Are you surprised? I was too.
Make no mistake, if you are a people – pleaser the first half ofPleasing People will not coddle you in any way. It is made readily clear that inordinate people pleasing is sin.
“The thought of my trying to convict you of your sin may seem like a rather severe (if not unsympathetic) approach to encourage you to change, but it is actually a very loving approach. The truth is, what we will be discussing in this book is not a sickness (or a psychological disorder) for which there is no cure; it is not a genetic predisposition that you as a Christian will be forced to live with for the rest of your life. It is simply a sin! And Jesus Christ came to do away with our sin.”
The first half of Pleasing People presents an in-depth understanding of what a people – pleaser is by pulling back the veil of those characteristics and exposing their consequences in light of the author’s ample use of Scripture.
Mr. Priolo is not advocating being stiff-necked, mean-spirited, unteachable, self-centered or contrarian for spite’s sake. Those attributes are no more Christlike than being a people – pleaser. There is a risk of over-correcting and swerving into another ditch of sin and error.
“In some places, the righteous requirement of the law is emphasized; in other places, the grace of God is clearly the predominant theme. In some places, faith apart from works is taught; elsewhere, faith is tied to one’s works. When you put it all together, you understand that we are saved by faith alone, but not the kind of faith that is alone. “
The exhortation is to be a God pleaser, which he elaborates in the second half of Pleasing People. It begins with the understanding that apart from Christ we can not please God. He walks the reader through what he must to do be saved and therefore pleasing to God.
“Not that it will be easy. It will require much effort, considerate amounts of time, and restructuring of your thoughts as you depend on the Holy Spirit for His enabling grace…And be patient – God will probably not wean you of your love of the world overnight. It will take time, effort, and thought to refocus your spiritual eyes, but in the end it will be well worth it.”
In Christ, we have the ability to please God far more often than we have of pleasing man – even some of the time. In Him, we have a loving Father and righteous judge who created and knows our most inward parts unlike mere man’s limited access.
Only God has the ability to rightly evaluate our internal and external behavior for which we will give an account. How much more wise and worthy is it to seek to please the Sovereign Lord and Sustainer of all things than our fickle and confined fellowman?
“When you please God, you have everything you need (security, happiness, peace, comfort, contentment, and freedom) – even if the whole world is displeased with you.”
Written with precision and practical application I would enthusiastically recommend Pleasing People – to the pleasure and glory of God.
Purchase Pleasing People: How Not To Be An “Approval Junkie” by Lou Priolo
You can also visit Lou at his blog: Lou Priolo Biblical Counseling
In addition, Mr. Priolo offers several tools and resources for further study and one of those is:
Directions Against Man Pleasing by Richard Baxter