'I knew how to please people, and I enjoyed being liked'
Pauline’s story | All else is naught!
“Christian values were embedded in our family culture – going to church, praying, hospitality and generosity to family and strangers alike. I remember praying with my sister to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, when I was just six years old. Having that kind of background was an absolute privilege and a blessing.
But it also came with a weight of expectations.
Growing up, I enjoyed making people happy and being liked. I knew how to please people, and I never struggled to have friends or be liked by teachers. In my early twenties, I married my beautiful, responsible, well-mannered husband; that made my dad very pleased!
But there was always a struggle to please people. My identity was based on fulfilling others’ expectations. It’s only in recent years I am learning to find my identity in Christ, not in others’ perception of me.
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In 2016, I started my own business, helping small businesses with workflow, HR and ATO compliance. If these are done badly, there are many negative impacts both to profits and people. I now employ eight people, and my understanding of God’s grace has certainly increased!
“What does it mean to run a business that reflects God’s heart and his wisdom?”
I’ve always liked to be liked, but now at work I find myself having to make difficult decisions, have difficult conversations and do difficult things, all of which affect other people’s wellbeing and perception of me. I don’t like doing difficult things! I’ve certainly become more prayerful. I’m learning to continually remember my identity is in what God says about me, not how others perceive me or how many tasks I can tick off.
Above my desk is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
Cognitively, I believe it. But I’m often tempted to think that if I don’t achieve a task immediately then something catastrophic could happen tomorrow. When I’m feeling the weight of the many tasks I haven’t done, I try to remember to acknowledge God and let him straighten my path in ways I can’t control or understand. Many times, after I’ve done this, clients have cancelled, and I’ve been able to finish the work, or something has changed that means what I was going to do is now different anyway.
Being in business continually challenges me to ask: How are we reflecting God’s generous heart of kindness while still wisely stewarding our business for profit? How do we respond when business or taxes seem unfair? How do we manage employees who are struggling and not performing, or when Christian friends want business favours? What does it mean to run a business that reflects God’s heart and his wisdom while generating respectable profits? That’s the challenge for me every day.
It’s kept me on my knees in prayer. I used to bring my problems to God and continually commit the ‘difficult’ parts of my business to him. But now I’m learning that when we delight in our indemnity in and with him, our fears subside.
“God loves and esteems me simply because he chooses to.”
I have two girl friends who have committed to praying with me fortnightly. It is a beautiful blessing! They are my “warriors”, and together we pray over the difficult and remind each other to stand firm in our true identities in Christ.
If my business, which I really love, were all to be dismissed tomorrow, I’ve got to be okay with that; it shouldn’t bring to question my value as a person. God is sovereign, and he allows us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I acknowledge those times can be very dark, but I have to understand who I really am, and the light that shines into our darkness.
I know God is at work in my heart, renewing my mind, changing my understanding of who I am: I am his child. Someone once said that if we don’t get out of bed tomorrow, God will still love us exactly the same. I’m now understanding that God loves and esteems me simply because he chooses to, not because of my position, my ability or how personable I am. I am his; all else is naught! God, in his grace, is teaching me a little bit at a time. Thank you, Jesus.”
Pauline’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click to read more Faith Stories.