59 Bible Verses About People Pleasing & How to Stop

Are you a people pleaser? Spoiler alert…we all are sometimes. The difference between each person lies in the patterns and motives. In this article, we are going to tackle people pleasing by reviewing Bible verses about people pleasing in God’s Word. This means we will review Bible verses about pleasing man versus pleasing God. And if your wondering about the difference between loving others and pleasing others- you’re going to learn about that, too! Let’s go!

people jumping; 59 bible verses about people pleasing

What does the term people-pleasers mean?

People-pleasing is a pattern of relating that prioritizes meeting the expectations and gaining approval of others rather than asserting their own needs and boundaries. People-pleasers often go to great lengths to avoid conflict, seeking validation and acceptance at the expense of their own well-being. They may excessively agree with others, fear disapproval, and struggle with setting boundaries. I’m not going to pretend that people pleasing doesn’t have some benefits. Let’s talk about that for a minute…

Why We People Please

Benefits of people-pleasing may include maintaining peace in relationships, avoiding conflict, and gaining short-term approval. Notice the phrase “short-term”. Whenever we engage in people pleasing it’s what I call a quick win. It only helps for a moment, but it’s a monster that has to be continuously fed. There are long term consequences of people pleasing. Now let’s talk about the problems with people pleasing…

The Problem of People Pleasing

Problems arise when people-pleasing becomes a pattern. Chronic people-pleasing can lead to burnout, resentment, and a loss of authenticity. In other words, you aren’t being you- who God made you to be. Instead you are being who others desire or demand you be. As a result, we can become tempted to compromise personal values, experience stress, and struggle with decision-making. Over time, this pattern can break down self-esteem and hinder personal growth, as the focus on external approval takes precedence over everything else.

Common Reasons We Strive for the Approval of People

If people pleasing is so bad, why does it feel so good (at times or in the moment)? It is so important to know what motivates our actions. If we are noticing a pattern of people pleasing, we must ask why. There are many reasons that are associated with people pleasing. I will reveiw some of the reasons here and I encourage you to prayerfully reflect on what is motivating your patterns of people pleasing. First, nobody likes to feel rejected. Are you going great lengths to meet others desires or demands with the hope of being accepted? Another common reason people engage in people pleasing is due to low self esteem. When we don’t know our value, we may try to seek validation from others as a way to feel better about ourselves. This is one reason it is so vital we know our identity in Christ. 

Third, people pleasing can also be a way we avoid conflict. Do you tend to sacrifice your own needs and desires to maintain a counterfeit version of peace in your relationships? If so, it is a good idea to evaluate the health of those relationships and consider making some changes. Fourth, were you raised in a family that placed an expectation on you to do what they want? Did this protect you from potential criticism or conflict. It’s important to recognize those patterns and begin to change they way you are relating. The fifth and final reason I am going to cover here is trauma. Past trauma related to rejection, abandonment can contribute to a fear of not being accepted. People pleasing may be a coping skill to avoid reliving past painful experiences.

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Fear is at the Root of People Pleasing

As we reviewed the most common reasons for people pleasing did you notice that fear is at the heart? Fear of conflict; fear of rejection; fear of disapproval…The following Scripture references are intended to help you put off people pleasing.

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.​

Psalm 34:4 – I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.​

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.​

Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.​

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.​

What does the Bible say about people pleasing?

Check out these Bible verses about people pleasing and fear. God does not desire that we live in fear. In fact, perfect love (God’s love) removes fear. We don’t need to fear punishment, disapproval or conflict. Fear of those things is not God’s best for His children. If you are in Christ, you already have God’s approval. God’s will for us is that we seek to please our Heavenly Father over pleasing others.

James 4:4-5 – You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?​

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 – “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”​

Loving Others Vs. Pleasing Others

Loving Others

  • Biblical Basis: Jesus emphasized the command to love others as a foundational principle of Christian living. 

Matthew 22:39 – He says, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”​

  • Key Characteristics:
    • Selflessness: Love involves selfless concern for the well-being of others.
    • Agape Love: It often refers to agape love, a selfless and unconditional love that seeks the best for others.

Pleasing Others

  • Biblical Caution: While the Bible encourages believers to be considerate and seek to please others to some extent, it also warns against prioritizing human approval over God’s approval. 

Galatians 1:10 – “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”​

Key Characteristics:

  • Approval-Seeking: Pleasing others can involve seeking their approval, sometimes at the expense of one’s own convictions.
  • Motivated by Fear: It may be driven by a fear of rejection or a desire to avoid conflict.

Key Distinctions:

  • Motivation: Loving others is motivated by genuine care and concern for their well-being, while pleasing others may be motivated by a desire for approval or avoiding conflict.
  • Source of Approval: Loving others is aligned with God’s command and seeks His approval, while pleasing others, when taken to an extreme, may lead to compromise of one’s values for human approval.
  • Sustainability: Love is a sustainable and enduring virtue, while the constant effort to please others may lead to burnout and resentment.

In summary, while both loving and pleasing others are encouraged in the Bible, the distinction lies in the motivation, source of approval, and the sustainability of these actions. Love is rooted in selflessness and aligns with God’s commands, while pleasing others is motivated by fear. The ultimate priority is seeking to please God rather than humans.

Bible Verses About People Pleasing and Fear of Man

Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.​

Galatians 1:10 – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.​

Psalm 118:6 – The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?​

Isaiah 51:12 – I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass?​

Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.​

Psalm 56:4 – In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?​

Isaiah 2:22 – Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?​

Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?​

Luke 12:4-5 – I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

Proverbs 14:26 – In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.​

Isaiah 12:2 – Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.​

Psalm 146:3 – Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.​

Hebrews 13:6 – So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”​

Psalm 118:8 – It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

Psalm 27:3 – Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

Psalm 56:11 – In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?​

Matthew 10:31 – Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.​

Isaiah 51:7 – Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings.​

Psalm 103:13-14 – As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Romans 8:15 – For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Bible Verses About People Pleasing and the Dangers

The dangers of people-pleasing are included in the following Bible verses about people pleasing. Proverbs indicates that living for the approval of human beings is a snare or trap. The greatest trap of people-pleasing includes anger, resentment and weariness. The book of John talks about religious leaders believing in Jesus, but compromised to seek approval from the chief priests. We miss out on the blessing of serving God as He has called us when our energy is being drained into managing our own fears of disapproval, rejection or conflict. God knows the motive of our heart.

John 12:42-43 – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Matthew 6:1-2 – Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

Bible Verses About Seeking the Approval of Man

Galatians 1:10 – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Colossians 3:22-24 – Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Matthew 6:1-6 – Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

John 12:42-43 – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Proverbs 27:21 – The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.

Bible Verses About People Pleasing Vs. Pleasing God

Colossians 1:10 – so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.​

Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.​

Psalm 118:4 – Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.​

Romans 12:1-2 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.​

1 Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.​

Ephesians 5:8-10 – for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.​

2 Corinthians 5:9 – So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.​

Philippians 4:18 – I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.​

Proverbs 16:7 – When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.​

Psalm 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.​

1 Peter 2:5 – you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.​

1 Thessalonians 2:4 – But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

How to Stop Living to Please Others

MOTIVES!! Know what is motivating your desire to please others. Prayerfully ask God to reveal your heart. He is faithful to answer those prayers to show you if you are operating out of fear.

Seek God’s Approval First

Galatians 1:10 –  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Prioritize pleasing God over seeking approval from people.

Set Boundaries

Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Establish healthy boundaries to protect your well-being and prevent excessive people-pleasing.

Live for God’s Glory

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Make your decisions and actions centered on bringing glory to God rather than gaining approval from others.

Know Your Identity in Christ

Ephesians 1:4-5 – Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

Understand your identity in Christ, finding security in God’s love rather than seeking validation from people.

Fear God Rather Than Man

Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Develop a healthy fear and reverence for God, recognizing His authority over human opinions.

Be True to Your Convictions

1 Thessalonians 2:4 – But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

Speak and act in accordance with your convictions and values, even if it means facing disapproval from others.

Practice Saying No

James 5:12 – But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

Learn to say no when necessary, setting appropriate limits and priorities.

Rely on God’s Strength

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Depend on God’s strength to overcome the fear of disappointing others and to live according to His will.

Final Thoughts on Bible Verses About People Pleasing

As Christians, we are not called to seek the approval of others. Pleasing men is not an expectation of God. It’s easy to confuse the good works of loving others and pleasing others. Knowing your own motives is a good thing or way to begin to check your heart. You do not need the favor of men because you already have the approval of God in Christ. 

1 Comment

  1. Dr LaRenda Jones on February 7, 2024 at 11:15 am

    Once we learn not to people please, we can then be free..

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