“Let’s just put it out there on the table…”
Awkward Dinner Conversations
Ask everyone to think of their most embarrassing, funny or awkward dinner conversations.
SAY: Last week we committed to “tabling” the issues of discouragement in our lives and pivoting our energy to think of God and thank God for things seen and unseen.
ASK: What opportunity or conversation did you leverage to invoke a spirit of thankfulness or bat away any arrows of discouragement, since last week?
Topic One: Don’t miss your blessin’ to teach a lesson.
“God’s destiny for your life doesn’t need your defense – it just needs your focus.” – Pastor Derick
SAY: Isn’t it interesting that at this particular dinner conversation, when Judas got up from the table, Jesus allowed him to get up and walk out the door? Wouldn’t we try to persuade Judas to change his mind? Jesus knew the people in his circle, heart and soul. He knew Judas would betray him, yet he allowed him at the table. When the time came for betrayal Jesus also allowed it to happen and let Judas leave. Jesus knew his identity wasn’t in the acceptance of Judas.
ASK: Has the focus ever been so skewed that you forgot where your identity lied, allowing another to distract your focus? Can you recall an example of how you found yourself becoming distracted with your focus on pleasing them instead of God?
SAY / TRANSITION: In Galatians 1:10, it tells us, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?... If I were still trying to please men, I could not be a servant of Christ." If we are living to be liked by others, we miss what God has called us. If Jesus would have gotten “distracted” by chasing after Judas, he would have gone off His mission and given into sin. We can recognize that some people have to be allowed to walk away from our tables in order for us to move forward.
Topic Two: The Addiction of People-Pleasing: Living to Be Liked.
“The reason why people pleasing is so damaging, is because it promises what it can’t deliver.”
- Pastor Derick
SAY: The desire to please people isn’t all bad. It’s the same desire that causes us to extend kindness or hospitality. But in all things, the devil will distort it and use what God intended to be a character strength as a weapon for his evil work, making it a character flaw. People pleasers struggle with a seemingly-uncontrollable need for the elusive approval of others, likening it to various other forms of addiction. And just like any other vices, the process to break the addictive cycle, rehabilitate and recover - can be just as hard.
ASK: How can we make sure we are honoring others with a pure heart and not just to feed the craving of a people pleasing addiction? How would you suggest changing your attitude of “people pleaser” when it comes those closest to you? Do you find it hard to navigate the fine line between loving and supporting those individuals versus and people-pleasing?
ASK: In our generation, social media is an all-but-unescapable influencer and part of our lives.
Have you ever found yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, only to observe time passing rapidly? Does it seem that people-pleasing has taken a new form with a, seemingly, overstated importance placed upon likes, followers, shares or comments? Jesus lived from love not for likes – so how could you pivot this time to be better spent in God’s presence and in prayer?
SAY: God has a unique plan and purpose for you. God will not ask, "Why weren't you more like ___?" God will not ask, "Were you popular?" or "Did everyone like you?" No, God is going to ask, "Did you fulfill the purpose for which you were created?" God needs you to be you! As, Pastor Derick says, "You do you, boo boo".
ASK: Can you think of a time when you suppressed your talent, desire, or dream due to fear of criticism or rejection from another person? How about the flip side: Have you acted on a God-given inspiration that other people judged or criticized?
SAY / TRANSITION: Let’s think back to the “Behave, Believe, Belong” model from week one. Jesus would come to invert and flip the law structure of the Pharisees who said, “First behave like me and believe like me to belong with me.” But with Jesus, it’s “You already belong with me. I will teach you to believe like me, so that you can become more like Me.” He is not concerned with a cyclical pattern of behavior built upon a faulty pursuit of acceptance and approval. He’s already granted those things to us through His sacrifice on the cross. When we model Jesus, we can begin to harness any debilitating fears that could make us feel forced to use "niceness" and "people-pleasing" as self-defense camouflage.
Topic Three: The snares and traps of people-pleasing.
“When the desire to please people turns or changes from a legitimate need, to a personal idol – you have got a ‘hook in your nose.’”- Pastor Derick
READ: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” - Proverbs 29:25 NIV
SAY: If you gain approval of others, you’ll have a feeling of acceptance and enter security which could give birth to a sense of confidence… But in reality, it would be a false–confidence. You cannot make all people, happy all the time. People often want the wrong things or change what they want. Pastor used the illustration about a snare - a noose or hook inserted into the nose.
ASK: So, what is the “hook” in you that has the capability to drag you around? What kind of traps have lead you to compromise your standards or values?
Leaders: Give a personal example here. Say something like, “I’ll start! For me, I fall into the trap of over-commitment all the time. This is most likely my snare because I will rush around to make an appearance at all my commitments, but never enjoy a one of them, because my mind is preoccupied with getting to the next event or project.”
SAY / TRANSITION: When we understand that the root of people-pleasing is actually a lie, and a tool used to distract us from God's work - it may be easier to remove these "hooks from our noses". The lie the enemy wants us to believe is that" if everyone likes us, then we will be happy. Therein lies the trap. Pastor Derick reminded us that "God can't do what He wants to do with your life if you are too busy trying to do what pleases other people." A fully devoted follower of Jesus is not going to experience "happiness" when drifting away from God in pursuit of acceptance by people.
Topic Four: The opposite of the curse is the cure.
“The fastest way to forget about what God thinks of you, is to obsess over what others think of you.” - Pastor Craig Groseschel
READ: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” - 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
SAY: People who suffer from deflated (low) self-esteem and exaggerated (high) self-esteem share the same problem of thinking of themselves too much. The antidote to both of these snares is the realization that it’s impossible to please everyone, but it is possible to please God.
ASK: How have you experienced people judging at the wrong time? What work-in-progress have you placed a sticker of completion upon, leaning on your own understanding of what God’s timing “should” be from your perspective? Why do we let naysayers speak into our spirits and judge our own lives when God sees us as a product that is not fully developed?
SAY/ TRANSITION: God has all the facts. People don’t. Recall Pastor Derick’s example of trespassing. Pastor defined “trespassing” as “to cross a known boundary marker.” Too many times, we need to be reminded to “Get off God’s property,” asking God to forgive us for cutting into His work (us). God would tell us to stop allowing others to come into His yard and judge us on His behalf.
Wrap up: Be still… and move on.
“Sometimes we are so focused on the “one” that left, and we forget about the eleven that remain.” – Pastor Derick
READ: “…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” – Matthew 6:12 “Honor the LORD! You are his special people. No one who honors the LORD will ever be in need.” – Psalm 34:9
SAY: In Exodus 14, Moses finds himself in a difficult season of leadership. When the people became frustrated with their leader, Moses advised them to, “Be still.” Be still means to “let it go,” “release it” or “allow God to take His place.” However, when Moses complained to God about the Israelites being stuck in the wilderness, God told Moses to, “Move on.” Moses has to go back out to the people and tell them to, “move on,” just after he told them to, “be still.”
ASK: Describe an area in your life in which you need to make a decision to, “Be still…and move on?” What steps are you taking to let it go and release it, while simultaneously, ordering those steps to press on?
SAY: Think about the story of Moses from Exodus 14 and the story of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in John 13. As Jesus is seated with the other disciples, Judas gets up and leaves. Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, but He was “being still”, allowing God to take control, while also “moving on” in the conversation to the Glory of God. When Judas leaves, Jesus remains, because His eyes were on the One in whom the pleasing mattered. The focal point from Jesus’ perspective is that: sometimes we are so focused on the one that left, and we forget about the eleven that remain. The focal point of this story from the disciples’ perspective is distorted, because they are focused on the hurt and disbelief caused by Judas’ exit… forgetting that Jesus is the One still seated at the head of the table.
PRAY: God, we thank You for the truth of Your Word and the honesty of our friends. Lord, I pray that we will leave here with a new-found confidence that is rooted in the power of the Holy Spirit; That man can take from us our coat, but they can never rob us of our callings. Father, the same power that kept Jesus faithful around that dinner table at the Last Supper, and on the cross, that ultimately saw him out of the tomb, I pray that same spirit would take up residence on the inside of each of us. Rise up inside of us, God! Let us live for the audience of One. Remind us of the grace we have been granted and gifted with to run our race. We keep our eyes fixed upon You, the Maker of heaven and earth. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.