What does the Bible say about being liked? When I first thought of this question, it felt the “right answer” was to say that Christians should not worry about being well liked at all.
While that is true in some ways, it is not true in every way. We should never “worry” about anything, but if we want to make the most impact for Christ, we would be foolish to not think about our likeability. The general principles outlined in the Bible about being well liked have far more to do with our motives than anything else. As I talk about in the article, “God Says We Should Care About What Others Think of Us,” when possible, we should try to be well liked:
It’s sinful to be concerned with people’s opinion about you when your motivation is rooted in being seen as someone special and superior. It’s not sinful, however, to be concerned with someone’s opinion about you for the sake of your ability to proclaim the gospel to them. Paul says to live carefully amongst unbelievers so that we will make the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:3-6). To do this, we must care about what others think of us to some degree.
We should seek to be joyful in Christ and then do our best to express that joy to others, caring (for the right reasons) what others think about us, hoping they too will find the love we have found in God.”
In the spirit of being liked for the biblically right reasons, here are 6 ways to be more likeable as a Christian.
- Be Authentic
The Bible does not say that likeable people are extroverted, introverted, deep thinkers, practical thinkers, gentle, bold, loud, or quiet. You can be any of these things and be likeable or not likeable. One of the biggest reasons people will like or dislike you is whether or not they feel you are fake or genuine. If you are the nicest person in the world but it doesn’t feel authentic, people won’t like you. Likewise, you can be a little on the abrasive side, but if people feel like you are just being you, most of them will still like you.
If there’s one thing you could say about Jesus (you can say a million things), he was definitely always authentic.
- Show More Gentleness
Okay, I lied a little. Even if you are being “authentic” in your brashness, you will still be more likeable if you increase your gentleness. The idea of being “genuine,” “real”, or “authentic” is often used as cover these days to just to whatever you feel like.
Everyone is wired differently, so not everyone will express kindness and gentleness the same. But no matter who you are, you can always seek to be gentler while not coming across fake. Colossians 4:5-6 is great advice if you want to know what the Bible says about being liked:
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
- Be In Tune With Other People’s Love Language
I’m using the term “love language” loosely here. What I mean is that everyone receives love differently. If you try to show someone you really care about them through your words but that person is uncomfortable with words of affirmation, they might try to avoid you more rather than be around you more.
How can you know what someone’s love language is? Observe how they interact with others and see how they are expressing their love. Does the person always volunteer to help? Does he love to talk about the Bible with those in need? Does he get right to the point or does he like to small talk?
I remember my wife was always amazed when I would challenge people in our small group who were very argumentative and liked to challenge the group with hard questions. When I would not back down and reasserted myself as the group leader, oddly enough these types of people seemed to like me more afterwards. Why? Because I was speaking their language.
My wife would be mortified if someone debated her so bluntly in small group as I did with these individuals because debate is not her thing. But I knew these people see the world differently, and when I respectfully debated them back as they were to others, I was speaking their love language. We weren’t arguing. But blunt people like blunt people. If I was that blunt with other people in group, however, they probably would never have come back.
To be well liked by others, I believe the Bible instructs us to love people. And to love people well, we need to know how they receive love.
- Don’t Be Judgmental
The Bible says a lot about judging others, and it’s not all boiled down to “Don’t judge!” It does, however, warn Christians often about not being judgmental in sinful ways. When you sinfully judge someone, you are saying you have a moral superiority over them. You are saying you are better than them. It’s pretty obvious why your likeability will go down as your judgement of others goes up.
- Be Eager to Help Others With the Needs They Have
During my times as a pastor, I found myself really liking those people who were ready to help out in the areas of need. I’m a big advocate for serving in your gifts. If you don’t serve where God has empowered you to serve through your desires and talents, eventually you will lose passion for ministry and burnout.
With that said, often our maturity is most revealed through times of inconvenience. It’s amazing to read through the gospels and see how often Jesus changed his plans when unexpected needs came up for people (Luke 9:10-11). As C.S. Lewis stated, “Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.”
When there are needs that need to be met and you don’t want to, when things come up out of nowhere, or when you are called upon to serve outside of your giftedness, these are the moments when we can make a great impact for the kingdom not through our skill but through our love expressed in inconvenient ways.
- Love God More Than Being Liked By People
Oddly enough, the more you try to be liked, often times the less people like you. I refer again to the pithy words of C.S. Lewis, “You will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making.”
In other words, people feel your neediness and it’s not appealing. To love people the best way possible, you have to love God more than people otherwise you will idolize them, and you can’t sacrificially love an idol. When you have a need to be liked by someone, you won’t do and say the hard things needed to love them the best way possible.
When you love God and receive his love first and foremost, you will have a full heart to love other people well. And when you love people well, you will usually be well liked.
What Does the Bible Say About Being Liked?
In summary, Christians should seek to be well liked by people for the right reasons. If you are trying to be liked for your ego or insecurities, the Bible says this is not a healthy pursuit. But if we seek to be liked for the glory of God and the benefit of others, then the Bible says this should be our aim. Perhaps Romans 15:1-3 sums up “What does the Bible say about being well liked?” the best way:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”