People Pleasing Is a Power Problem


By Nathan Wesley Smith

I have had the great privilege of traveling to many different countries around the world either ministering through speaking or leading worship.

Once, while on a ministry tour of Eastern Europe, I was in Croatia, preparing to go out on the stage to lead worship when I realized something was wrong with my guitar effects pedal board. Making a few quick changes, I inadvertently disconnected a very important component – the transformer. You see, European electrical power operates on 220 volts while American electrical power operates on 110 volts. The two simply cannot relate to each other without a transformer between them. When I reconnectedmy equipment I got a free fireworks show! (That’s a cute way of saying my gear blew up.) Little did I know that episode would lead to an even greater lesson than that of international power conversions.

Too often the pulls and distractions of people’s opinions and perceptions cause us to lose focus on the true source of our strength, because we try to draw strength from their approval and applause. It is God’s power that gives us everything we need for life and for godliness. He is, literally, more than enough. Yet we can live quite carelessly in ignorance of His great power and often function in a lesser way of life. The truth remains, though, that without a transformer between the two of us we simply cannot handle His glory and His goodness. Jesus is that great transformer in every sense of the word.

There are stories in the Old Testament where certain people would get too close to God’s presence without following His clear instruction and the results were devastating. That seems harsh for some of us when you read it at face value. However, if you consider it in the context of working at a nuclear power plant or, where I live in Charlotte, at one of the NASCAR race facilities, you get a better picture:

These engines, machines and reactors have immense power!If you are not very careful and attentive to the clear boundaries and rules of how to relate to these sources of power you will get hurt. It is not the power sources’ fault for being powerful, it is often our lack of attention or respect that puts us in a very unfortunate and dangerous position. I disconnected the transformer to my equipment because I was distracted and in a hurry and I paid the price. The power was simply being what it was – powerful.

When we get caught up in appearance and performance, we can quickly forget the source of our strength and how Jesus is the only way we can stay connected to the power we need.

The good news is that same power, the power that raised Christ form the dead, is available to us in full. We can love and live and lead out of that great power because of the Cross. However, too often we experience a power drain or a complete disconnect from God’s power because we get distracted with the opinions of people and the desire to be understood or approved of by our peers, our church or other leaders. That is certainly not an excuse to run wild with no concern for others. However, when we allow the desire to please people to supersede our desire to serve and please God, we are getting our wires crossed and are putting ourselves in a dangerous position.

Strange as it may seem, there is a fascinating correlation in scripture with this concept that helps me better remember and apply this truth to my own life, in light of the story I told at the onset.

The Apostle Paul said in the book of Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” He recognized he needed a ‘transformer’ to empower him to live the full life God desires for us to live. We’ll come back to that in a second.

Ironically, this verse is Galatians 2:20! What I found to be even more amazing is that Galatians 1:10 says ‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ If we try to live our lives on 110 power (people pleasing – Galatians 1:10) when God has designed us to operate on 220 power (faith in Jesus – Galatians 2:20) we will not be able to succeed, we will have a serious ‘power problem’ and we will completely BURN OUT!

You are not wired to live the powerful, abundant life that Jesus purchased for you while still trying to operate on ‘Galatians 1:10’ power. Your personality is not big enough. Your gifts are not strong enough and will not last long enough. You simply will not make it. However, when you stay tapped into Him and seek His approval above all others, you will have all the power you need, and then some.

You don’t have to be overwhelmed today by the pressures and the power drain of people pleasing.

You don’t have to try to make everyone happy.

You can die to all of that and live by faith in the One who transforms you from the inside out to be able to receive and operate in His love.

One last thing to blow you away… the kind of transformer that is needed to convert 220 volt electrical power to 110 is called a ‘step-down transformer.’ How amazing is it then that the Psalmist says of the Lord in Psalm 18 “…You have stooped to make me great.”

In all of your efforts to ‘reach up’ today and connect with God, know that He has already ‘stooped down’ to give you all that you need to operate in His power which is infinitely more fulfilling and powerful than your own. Don’t be trapped by trying to please people. Live to please the One who delights in you fully and empowers you to be and do more than you ever dreamed or imagined. God is for you today and so am I.

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Nathan and his family live in the Charlotte, NC area. Nathan has served the Body of Christ in full-time ministry for nearly 20 years through church planting, worship leading, teaching and speaking. He carries an immense burden for Israel and the nations. The author of over 50 songs, Nathan currently serves as the Connections Pastor at The Refuge ( You can catch more of his writings on his weekly blog called #TheBestViewInTown at