How to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think
“Jonathan, just thinking of how people will react gives me such anxiety.”
Sounds quite common, doesn’t it? This was a conversation I had recently with one of the church members after our Sunday morning service.
This sounds so common because it’s true, isn’t it? People often say such things as “I’m a people-pleaser.” But if you are a person, there is a natural instinct to be liked by others. There is an inward desire to be known, seen and affirmed.
As a result, often times wanting to please others becomes the focal point of life and drains the soul. The fear of being rejected by others is an inescapable dreadful thought.
What should we do when we worry about what others think? How do we stop worrying about what other people think?
Here are a few points to overcome the flood of anxiety and the fear of men.
How should I deal with the fear of men?
The Bible abounds with the truth about worry, fear, and anxiety, although, applying these truths can be a complex and difficult task.
Fear of men so often comes from the desire to gain the approval or avoid the disapproval, of another person, along with the consequences that come with either.
Ed Welch said it well in the book Running Scared, “Any time you love or want something deeply, you will notice fear and anxieties because you might not get them.”
Often the passage that people turn to in the NT comes from a Pauline Epistle.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23).
This passage has been used as a Christian cliché that has often confused churches.
What does Colossians 3:23 mean?
To answer that question, we’d do well to look at verses where the Bible talks about doing something “for God” or “for the Lord.” This is where we see what doing something for the Lord means — not doing something to meet his needs, but doing something to receive his reward.
Paul’s instructions are to Christian “bondservants,” or slaves.
His words remind us that, regardless of our station in life, God is the one ultimately judging all we do, so all of our services are really for Him. From the most mistreated slave, our service is really for Him.
“Do it heartily,” the ESV version says;
This is not by mere force and necessity, grudgingly, and with murmurings, but from the heart, and with good will, having a true, real, and hearty affection for their masters.
Serve Him with passion and that’ll transform the way you view your life.
As John Piper from Desiring God put as the following as a great example.
- I’m going to sing this Sunday morning for the reward of joy in the Lord.
- I’m going to pick up my children from school for the reward of joy in the Lord.
- I’m going to be on the soundboard mixing for the reward of joy in the Lord.
- I’m going to work in my office cubicle space for the reward of joy in the Lord.
Working for the all-satisfying joy in Christ drastically transforms our lives. This will change everything.
The Fear of Man Enslaves You, But He Who Trust in God is Safe (Prov 29:25)
We try and try again. “If I can be with that person; if I can get that job; if I can live in that home; if I can deal with this problem; if I can reach that point.” Constantly seeking trivial matters of this earth rather than God himself.
Ultimately, serving yourself, people, or things more than God is the sin of idolatry.
Few fundamental questions to ask in order to identify the idol of your heart are the following:
– What do you crave, savor, fear or focus on?
– What is the ‘one thing’ you live for?
Whatever that is, it often is the Lord and king over your life.
Whether that means living for or pursuing a person, or a possession, or a certain position, or a pleasure, that has become king over your life.
Is King Jesus truly your greatest desire? Jesus is not only Savior but King.
For if there’s a king, then there’s a kingdom. And if there’s a kingdom, then there are citizens. So, the question is, are you a passive participant or an active citizen?
Why should we not listen to our feelings and worry about the thoughts of others? Because living for King Jesus is the true and only freedom we as Christians can experience the mercy and faithfulness of Christ every day.
—Jonathan Hayashi is a pastor, educator, and contributor to Ambo TV. This post orginally appeared on his blog www.jonathanhayashi.com