Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, co that your giving may be in secret. And our Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1—4
I am an extrovert. I just love people, love being around them, love relating to them, knowing them, being known by them. I start to wither when I don’t have friends to talk things out with and live life along side. However, if I’m not careful, I slip quite easily into “people pleasing.” My goal becomes making those around me like me.
That’s not God’s goal for me. At all. He calls me to a completely different goal: to work quietly, unnoticed for an Audience of One.
As I contemplate this, I realize that so often, our church services and ladies’ brunches are at least in part about entertainment. We applaud people. A lot. But God is far more pleased when the featured speaker or amazing soloist gets on her knees in a slum and loves on a dirty child, where no one sees and no one claps for her.
I need to shift my goals from achieving the approval of those around me to simply pleasing God. Instead of wondering if I’m doing “enough” to please those who may be watching, I need to ask myself a far simpler question: Am I pleasing God? I don’t have to wonder about his opinions. He’s written them down for me clearly. In most situations, I can quickly answer “yes” or “no” to that question.
But if my goal is pleasing people, the answers are rather muddy. Will this please that group? Well, I don’t know. Maybe. The older people in the church would want me to do it this way, the younger people would prefer I do it that way. I can’t please them both. What does that particular woman think about me? I’d hate to ask her, because that would seem like I was fishing for compliments, but … wow … she’s an enigma. What does she think?
All those question marks disappear when my audience is God alone. He’s told me what He thinks. He doesn’t hide his opinions or make arbitrary judgments of me.
My goal: to please and Audience of One.