A Destructive Mistake

Probably the most asked question I get in interviews and by pastors I’m mentoring is, “If you could go back and change anything in your ministry, what would you change?”

Usually I’m thinking, You don’t have enough time for me to actually answer that question. I’d change tons of things.

However, at the very top of the list would be my driving desire to be “loved” at all costs.

I have a lot of friends in ministry that are addicted to this pride-swelling choice as well.

For most of my life and certainly all of my ministry, I’ve been addicted to pleasing everyone. It didn’t matter if it cost me my personality, my family, or even at times, my vow to speak truth. I just wanted to be “loved.”

  • I would ignore the sincere compliments of others to be obsessed with the few critics.
  • I would abandon my boundaries and go above and beyond to “help” someone while ignoring my family.
  • I would put off the tough leadership decisions trying to keep all sides content.

Why? Simple. I wanted to be “loved.”

But let me tell you something. Leading with a desire to be loved is dangerous. Parenting with a desire to be loved can be destructive. And if you spend your life trying to be loved instead of being loving, it’s going to lead you to all kinds of unhealthy extremes.

Part of learning humility for me is to understand I simply can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to like me, love me, or think I’m great. They’re just not.

I feel like I’m growing in this area. I’m learning the freedom that comes along with seeking to love, instead of always desiring to be loved.  The first leads to meaning and significance while the latter  is an emotional black hole that can never be filled.

I pray you will learn to live in the Kingdom and be freed from the sheer stupidity and vanity of going through life trying to make sure other people think the right things about you.  If you depend on other people loving everything you say or do, you will end up doing and saying nothing. I pray you’ll receive the fact that you are loved in the eyes of God in such a way that you can then go out to lead and live, seeking to truly love the people around you.

Enough about me. Does anyone else struggle with this?


LET HOPE IN by Pete Wilson

10 Responses to “A Destructive Mistake”

  1. Miss August says:

    Every human being needs to hear this. I believe that it cripples our lives and limits our joy. I have been asking myself exactly when this ‘O that everyone may love me’ bug bit me and it just seems to stretch to forever. I can’t remember the time it wasn’t there.

    IMHO, the driving force behind this attitude is fear (of rejection) but if we would remember that God accepts us as we are, we may be free from the chains. Does this mean I’m above wanting everyone to love me? I desperately pray so.

    • DIANE1230 says:

      Miss August, I love what you said about the fear of rejection but remembering God accepts us just as we are. Those simple words summed up my long winded comment below. Thank you.

  2. DIANE1230 says:

    YES, YES, YES. This is me & then some. I need everyone to like me & will not say things or will say things to make sure it happens. Right now, I’m in the middle of transitioning a friendship because it was destructive but I thought the peaceful thing to do was let my friend ride along & get her way. Realizing that it destroyed me little bit by little bit is making me realize life is too short to live through drama & where my life I’m walking on egg shells in certain situations. Although I’m not to the “freeing” part completely of letting go, I am realizing that there are some things in life I can’t help & other people’s opinions is one of them.

  3. One of the big choices I’ve made in what is my first lead pastor position is to be courageous. As a staff pastor I played it safe–usually seeking the love and approval of my superiors. Now I can’t help but think about the fact that the end is near–either Jesus will return; I’ll die; or my people will pass and I’ll preach their funerals.

    So here’s the question for me: is it more important that they “loved/liked” what I did or that they got a truer sense of God’s desire for their lives? God’s dream for them–which is usually so ‘unsafe’ it’s scary!

  4. Mike in Milwaukee says:

    Pete, love the juxtaposition between the desire to be loved and the need to learn how to lean into loving others. If I “love others as myself” I will help them hear what is good for them to hear instead of deceiving them with happy talk. This is a continuing challenge for me. And I hate confrontation – so happy talk is often my default response. God guide my heart and my words!

  5. Beth says:

    Oh yes, I do! But I’m grateful for how I’m growing in this area.
    I’m really stopping in to tell you how much I love your book, Let Hope In. I haven’t quite finished yet but it has had quite the impact. THANK YOU!
    Blessings to you.

  6. Jody says:

    I will keep it PG and write “Heck yes.”

    They say that “blood is thicker than water,” and it should be, but lately in my life I have noticed that I have finally accepted the fact that some people in my own family MAY not like me. And guess what, that is okay!

    As the famous composer Bobby Brown once wrote, “That’s my Prerogative!”

    Its my prerogative to accept that my family’s approval is NOT necessary to my self-esteem or self worth. God loves me and so do 100’s of other people in my life.

  7. Darren says:

    Hi! I just noticed your internet site: A Destructive
    Mistake when I was searching stumbleupon.com. It looks as though someone appreciated your blog
    so much they decided to bookmark it. I’ll positively
    be coming here more often.

Leave a Reply