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When Impressing Others Depresses Us

April 23, 2018

To the doers, the givers, the helpers, and the responsible ones: are you tired from the way you’re living your life?

I know this so well.

Many days I go through the motions necessary to get me and my people through the day without giving a second thought as to why.

All this work I’m doing, who is it really for?

I push through, drive on, check the boxes, and fall into bed each night utterly exhausted without truly considering my motivation.

It’s easy to say it’s for God. Or for my family’s provision. Or for the people I serve.

It’s easy to think: There are things that have to be done and if I don’t do them, no one will.

But could some part of that “drive” to complete be to impress others? To be more noticed? To push past the crowd and stand in the spotlight of success? To feel like you matter? To prove someone wrong who said you couldn’t?

Maybe not.

But maybe so.

Only that deep down inside of us place where honesty speaks freely and the Holy Spirit is listened to, knows.

Sweet friend, I’ve tasted that bitter aftertaste of trying to impress. And it was the quickest route to feeling completely depressed. If the accolades coming from others are the lifeline to our pursuits, we become enslaved by their compliments and crushed by their criticisms.

So this next week, do something new.

Create something that’s totally you without being held back by the fear that others won’t like it. Dare to be delighted by your work. Dare to remember your work is delightful to the Lord. Then your work will once again delight you. And after you are finished, rest. And smile. And enjoy your life.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” — Ephesians 6:7

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  1. Abigail Mabus

    This was very timely. I have received a few compliments from my professors, and I was trying to figure out why I found that stressful. What I’ve been realizing is that when they notice that I’m doing well, the pressure I put on myself to perform increases. But God doesn’t value us based on our performance. If what we do we do to His glory, He is pleased.

  2. Christy Mobley

    As always Lysa, you hit the nail on the head. It’s only when we can realize what our true motives are and admit them to ourselves and God that we can do something positive about them. Only recently I realized I was pursuing something because I thought it was expected of me. When we grasp at something for all the wrong reasons our soul is never satisfied with the performance.

  3. Brenda

    I have something that God put in my heart that I want follow
    I feel everyone get in way wants to stop me pursing this dream God gave me trying someone school work they stop put blockers not help achieve get help write ( really suffer write paper) I feel stupid that write didn’t learn right way. He gave me someone for God and me. Pray God send give someone help me achieve his purpose dream help me go school and go help learn . so I help work homeless and poor who need someone listen their needs I know what that is like God purpose me help them have place and food me listen ones who need someone and me help them me do Lords work every deserve respect dignity compassion love kindness peace freedom someone who really cares all created different by God were all his children he loves all of us ,tell them about Lord .

  4. Nikki

    Thank you for this post Lisa & very well timed for me. Needed to hear this today and be reminded!

  5. Brenda

    God given me purpose trust lord follow him he directed me to fill dream God put my heart wants me holy spirit gives us gifts us follow lord . Im grasp something really Holy Spirit direct me right school social work degrees follow lord do his work help pray that college have someone help achieve goals learn write learning disability needs have tutor learning write help me .
    Lord laid my heart burning inside heart purpose for me help homeless and poor listen their needs. sorry when writing I don’t word thinks correctly what trying say

  6. Jamie Smith

    Thank you for this wonderful post! This post is my life in a nutshell. I work had to make others happy but recently got some not so favorable comments made about me and makes me want to give up. I love the tips at the end to do something new!

  7. Marilyn in East Texas

    Words of Wisdom
    Thank you for speaking so gently!

  8. AmyJo Medaris

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear! Too often I let my people-pleasing perfectionism keep me from doing things I enjoy. Still have a long way to go but each time I’m able to not worry about what others think and be happy with what I’ve done, is a step in the right direction. I love Eph 6:7, such a wonderful reminder!

  9. Lisa Braund

    Lysa, I recently was taken out of a job and put back into a job that I did before, a demotion in a way, but God has a plan for me to lay down my pride and move aside and let Him be the Lord of my life! I’m so thankful to God for His good and perfect Will!
    My 2 daughters and I, and my 2 sisters and 2 nieces had the privilege of hearing you speak last weekend at Houghton College, you are an inspiration to us and in our prayers! Also, my daughter Rachael writes a blog post under your ministry called she has a heart to reach as many as she can with the words that God gives her! Bless you and your family and your ministry! Lisa Braund

  10. Robin

    “Bitter aftertaste of trying to impress”. Wow. So True. Thank you Lysa, for speaking the truth in love! I needed this reminder to stay focused on the process set forth by Ephesians 6:7.

  11. Susanna

    Amen! The freedom to just be His beloved and accepted is so often forgotten as I check off so many boxes in my day. Whew!

  12. Leslie Basham

    For so long I tried to impress others. Now I’m grateful that I’m still in the game. My husband has been suffering from a brain degenerative disease for coming on 10 years. There is no one to impress. There is only staying in the fight. Hebrews 6:10 – Our God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to the help them. 11 We Want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.”

  13. alisa

    May I have permission to copy the devotion from pages 22-23 in Embrace for the 8 women in my neighborhood Bible Study group?

    Alisa Adams
    Midlothian, Virginia

    • Lysa TerKeurst

      Absolutely, Alisa!

      We are excited for your small group 🙂

      Many blessings!
      Mary Scott, LT Ministry Team

  14. Geneva

    Thank you 💕

  15. Denise Pass

    This is so helpful. Thank you! Sometimes I can let the fear of man overwhelm me when someone believes false things about me. But then when I remember what God says about me, I can ask Him to help me let go of false accusations.

  16. Hollie Bowling

    I understood the main point of your comments and am so moved by your desire to follow God’s voice and dream for your life! Praying for you Brenda.

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