Living for Likes: The Danger of Living to Please Others

 

As a blogger, one of the biggest temptations is to become fixated on likes, shares, and views, and to write everything so that it gets the most of them possible. Social media and the internet provide the ultimate feedback system, with instant knowledge of whether or not something was well received. The hard part is criticism, and the temptation is to avoid it at all costs. Writing, after all, is an act of vulnerability, exposing your innermost thoughts for thousands to either approve of or tear apart. And boy can it be hard when you get torn apart.

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But our desire for approval, and fear of disapproval, is not limited to the internet or to bloggers. It is a human problem. Every day, we feel a desire to shape who we are and what we do based on the praise or criticism of others. Whether its in the workplace, school, or with our friends and loved ones, one of the most painful feelings is that of rejection, and we avoid it all costs.

Living for Likes

In one sense, this is only natural. Humans are social creatures that want to be liked, and there is nothing inherently wrong with this. Yet, this desire for praise and approval can all too can become an obsession, a disease, an idol. It is a serious problem when who we are is not determined by anything inside of ourselves, much less our relationship with our Creator, but by the ever shifting judgments of others; when our conduct is not determined by higher principles, but by how it might be perceived.

The real test is when the desire to please others puts us in conflict with pleasing God, which it inevitably will. Following Christ always contradicts the world in one way or another. It will always provoke frowns and cynical comments, criticisms, negativity, or even outright mockery and humiliation. In a real way, this negativity can cause pain. If it is severe enough, it could resemble an emotional martyrdom of sorts, especially if the disapproval is received from those we love and care about most.

The question is, who do we want to please more, God or men? Will we shrink back and change like a chameleon to blend in? Will we apologize and capitulate? Or will we courageously stand firm like the great saints and martyrs? How we answer those questions will reveal much about our hearts.

The Cause

At the root of our desire to please is self-love, also known as pride. Self-love infects everything and distorts it, and this is no less true of our desire to be liked. The sting we feel when others criticize or mock us is our deep rooted love-of-self flinching in pain. And because this is true, the only way to overcome and be free from the sickness of people-pleasing is to steep ourselves in humility.

The truly humble man is dead to the praise or criticism of others. He is entirely indifferent if he receives the Nobel prize or is lynched by a mob. One question, and one question only drives the way he lives: Have I pleased my Lord Jesus Christ who loved me and gave himself for me?

How far nearly all of us are from this humble freedom and indifference! At this first hint of criticism, we recoil and shrink back. We modify, qualify, and retract. We have no courage, no inner fortitude, or at least not nearly enough.

The Solution

The only way to break free of the bondage of pleasing others is to learn to accept everything, even humiliation, at their hands. Be willing to carry the cross of criticism, to bear the pain of rejection and mockery. To pray for your persecutors, while not bending to please them.

And when the pain of rejection and shame sears your heart, remember your crucified Lord, who endured the shame of the Cross, despising it to obtain your salvation. He too was mocked, stripped naked, scoffed at, derided and utterly humiliated in every way; abandoned by his closest friends, rejected by those he came to save, and exposed for all the world to laugh at.

But you know what? He loved you more. He endured the cross of shame to save the very ones who subjected him to this humiliation, crying out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And that includes you.

Living to please others is a very real form of bondage. It enslaves and destroys. The only way to be liberated is to carry our crosses and submit to the shame of pleasing God over men. We must learn to love our Savior more than praise and approval, for only then will we be truly free.

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10 Responses to Living for Likes: The Danger of Living to Please Others

  1. ginnyfree says:

    If I lived for “likes,” I’d have died a long time ago. Any one who knows me and my contributions to the Land-O-Blog knows well that I’m very frequently DIS-liked. Yes, sad but true. Many very often dislike me and the things I say. I really don’t mind though. They are simply expressing themselves. It happens. I’ve grown used to it. If I got “liked” too often I’d get a big head fast, so God in His Mercy, keeps the hateful comments and rebuttals coming so I stay humble. And as it happens so often, I can only say that the virtue of Humility that is a crown worn by many in Heaven, it must be one that He desires for me as well. Besides all that, if I got liked, it may be because my delivery of the Message may have shifted from the Truth to a twisted replica custom made for ears that are used to being tickled; i.e. Luke 6:26 or Proverbs 27:6 “Trustworthy are the blows of a friend, dangerous, the kisses of an enemy.” or even Prv. 27:21 “The crucible for silver, the furnace for gold, so you must weigh the praise you receive.” It the light of the Gospel, praises of men may not be to God’s liking and since He’s the one whose judgement lasts forever, it’s only His liking that counts. So, as Mary says, “Do whatever He tells you,” like good servants at a wedding feast and you will be blessed with the finest of wines to your fill in the life to come. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  2. toadspittle says:

    “If I got “liked” too often I’d get a big head fast, so God in His Mercy, keeps the hateful comments and rebuttals coming so I stay humble. “

    Very succinctly put, Ginless Wonder.
    Although, on a point of pedantic accuracy, I’d advise substituting the word “arrogant,” for “humble.”
    Just a humble suggestion.
    God bless us all, says Tiny Toad.

  3. ginnyfree says:

    Arrogant is what those who aren’t quite humble enough to admit others are right when they are wrong generally call those who are right. I’m just sayin’.

    Ribbit Toad, ribbit.

  4. toadspittle says:

    “Ribbit Toad, ribbit.”
    You’d be wiser to confine your comments to that level, O Ginless One.
    Or you are out of your depth.

  5. ginnyfree says:

    Well, Toad. If you must be mean, be mean. Insults are honors and slaps are blessings when borne charitably for our Blessed Lord. Some of the Holy Martyrs of the Inquisition have a feast day today. Their names are as follows: St. William Arnaud, OP, St. Bernard of Rochefort, OP, St. Garcia d’Aure, OP, St. Steven of Narbonne, OFM, St. Raymond of Carbonius, OFM, Two Benedictine clerks, St. Bernard Fortanier, OSB and St. Pietro d’Admer, OSB, their Prior, St. Raymond di Cortisan, OSB, along with a Notary, St. Peter, a layman. There are two other Saints of the Franciscans and another Priest, who are simply listed as “& Companions” in some lists. These men were sent to confront the Albigensian heresy and paid with their lives for their efforts. You can read about them here: https://orderofpreachersindependent.org/2015/05/29/blessed-william-arnaud-o-p-companions-the-martyrs-of-toulouse/

    These men never bothered much about “likes” though if they weren’t liked by others it was a sign for them that the persons not liking them were heretics or sympathetic towards the heretics. Jn. 15:18; Lk 11:23, etc.

    Yes, Toadie dear, speaking up for God and His Church can actually get you killed. So, putting things like Facebook “likes” in perspective, you tend to get a much broader understanding of what matters. And all that matters really is the love of Christ and bearing witness to Him faithfully. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  6. toadspittle says:

    “Yes, Toadie dear, speaking up for God and His Church can actually get you killed.”
    Yes Ginster “dear,” – and quite a lot of Jews actually got killed for speaking up for their God and their Church, as well.
    As well as quite a few Protestants, Muslims, Hindus and pagans, for doing likewise.

    So, the cracked-record line of, “We Catholics are persecuted unmercifully, Yes, we were lousy, but they were even worse,” doesn’t cut a whole lot of ice with me.
    …And try finding me any “proof” of Agnostics ever killing someone because their victim believed in a certain, specific, brand of God and the Agnostics didn’t.
    ….Then I’ll be quiet.

    Yes, Yet again, a boring old cracked record comment from Toad.
    But who brought it up?

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    The truly humble man is dead to the praise or criticism of others

    No, that’s one of the deadliest forms of pure arrogance.

  8. JabbaPapa says:

    … sorry : pure hubris.

  9. Brother Burrito says:

    Real humility is totally un-self-conscious,

    like real beauty, and real virtue and real goodness.

    Our Lord possessed all these qualities in genuine superabundance. He didn’t have to pretend, like the very most of us do.

    He is artless, without guile or deception, unpredictable, just like the Son of God should be.

    Un-self-conscious-ness cannot be manufactured or measured or audited. It is a bit like a qubit: as soon as you examine it, it disappears into a puff of joyful improbability, leaving a faint but unmistakeable scent of infinite mystery.

    PS: Talking of quantum physics, Schrodinger’s cat has let me know that he wants his litter changed. There is a terrible “pen and ink” in there right now, he says.

  10. toadspittle says:

    That’s Descartes’ cat – not Schrodinger’s – Bro Burron.

    “I stink, therefore I am.”

    …Although they do both look very similar in the dark.

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