If you were given the choice between being liked or being respected by people, which one would you choose? Of course, the clever answer is to say we want BOTH. We want people to like us and respect us too.
But what if I told you it’s not always possible to be both liked and respected? And what if I pointed out that, too often, we tend to do things in order to be liked, even if those things cause us to lose people’s respect.
For example, it’s understandable if you want your kids to like you. But it’s far more important to do what it takes to gain their respect. Insecure parents often try to “buy” the affection of their kids, but that approach always backfires in the end.
Insecure bosses try to be the life of the party and everybody’s pal, even though sometimes a good boss has to hurt people’s feelings and make decisions that are unpopular.
Many of the Bible’s greatest leaders were highly unpopular at times. Moses faced major rebellions, Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern, and the crowd told Pilate to crucify Jesus, the Son of God.
Nevertheless, most of us are people-pleasers at heart. That’s why it’s so hard to be a good leader, or even a good disciple of Jesus.
Paul explained it this way: “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
Paul understood that at times we all come to the uncomfortable place where we must choose: Will we seek people’s favor or God’s favor? Will we be authentic servants of Christ or mere people-pleasers?
A quote attributed to Ed Sheeran says, “I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Well said.
I hope you are a person who is both likeable and respectable. But if you have to choose, I encourage you to do the right thing, even if it’s not the popular thing. Put respect above likeability. You’ll be glad you did.