(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article, read by the author)
At school, it’s very hard not to care what people think about you. “If I say this, will people think I’m weird? What if I wear this? What if I go here, hang out with this person?” There are politics to everything you do, maybe even down to the way you walk through the hallways.
Or maybe you want to stand out as different, to make it obvious that you do your own thing; you don’t care what people think. But underneath that, maybe even sub-consciously, it’s important that people see you as you want them to. The underlying motive is the face that you want to present to people. It’s about your ego. That’s human nature.
It’s such a heavy life; it makes you a slave. You can’t do what you know is right, or be yourself, or think for yourself.
When you go to church, are involved in youth activities, and are a part of that community, who are you then? You want people to notice your goodness or your volunteer work or whatever it is. So you try to say the right things and to come across really well.
But again, what are your motives? Are you doing these things out of a love for God, and because you want to serve Him? Or is this behaviour again being driven by egotism and pride?
This kind of hypocrisy is also slavery. How can you be genuine in your service to God if your focus is what other people think?
But when you get home, you’re no longer so concerned with what your family or roommates think. There you let the “real you” out. Who cares if they see you as grumpy, rude, or lazy?
What makes you think that you don’t need to be concerned with how they feel or what they think? Are you somehow, in your mind, above them? Maybe not consciously, but if you thought more highly of them, if you loved them more than yourself, you wouldn’t behave like that. (Philippians 2:3)
You’re still a slave. Still focusing on yourself and what you want and you think and you feel, instead of on doing God’s will and what would be best for the people around you.
Is it hard for you to change who you are at home because the people there know you so well and it’s hard to humble yourself and admit that you need to change?
The bottom line
The bottom line in all of these things is that it’s about me, me, me.
Why does it matter what people think? Who should you really be trying to impress?
“… do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.
A new focus
Are you thinking right now that this doesn’t apply to you? Do you think you’re just not the kind of person who cares what people think? Be honest with yourself. Pay attention and take note of how many times a day you do, or do not do, something because of who is or isn’t there.
We all walk around as the centre of our own universe; that’s human nature.
But that can change. Even though right now your thoughts may be stuck in this egotistical cycle, you can overcome that entirely and come to the point that you are free to act with godliness, to the glory of God in every situation!
““For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
“Am I projecting the right image? Are they going to notice me? ” When these thoughts keep coming up, you have the ability to control them, instead of the other way around. Be humble and admit the truth of what you are tempted to and pray for help.
“God, I know this isn’t how it has to be. Even though my flesh is pushing me in this direction right now, what I really want is to live in a way that is pleasing to You and to be free from these thoughts that bind me. Give me the power to take these thoughts captive and to live according to Your Word!”
Consciously direct your thoughts to the good. Dig into and meditate on God’s Word. Pray more for yourself. Pray for your friends, your family, someone you know is going through hard times. Be aware of the people around you instead of only yourself. Make it good for someone else. Step outside of your self interest.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Colossians 3:23.
When you live your life this way, then the honor of people will matter less and less to you as you become more firmly rooted and grounded and established in the Lord. Then your actions will always be godly no matter where you are and who you are with. Then your life will be of honor to God, and He can use you in His ministry. Your life will radiate goodness, kindness, love, and all the virtues instead of insecurity, striving, bondage, and anxiety.