Silencing the Shoulder People


At the risk of sounding completely insane, I just need to address a (very) tiny elephant in the room that maybe you’ll understand.  The shoulder people.

What my sane, rational mind knows to be true is almost always challenged by pesky little people who perch their crazy selves on my shoulder and tell me lies to dishearten me.  I recently disclosed this to a brilliant, talented friend of mine and I was thrilled sorry surprised to learn that my much-admired friend has shoulder people, too!

Here’s how it plays out for me…

My rational mind knows that when the King of the Universe grants me a gift, opportunity or talent, He intends for me to embrace it, hone it, enjoy it… bring honor to Him through it.  But the shoulder people, with their little megaphones aimed at my brokenness, are all, “So-and-so does that SO much better than you do. You should leave this to them.”

My rational mind also knows that when our Perfect Creator says I’m a masterpiece, I AM (just like you are). But the shoulder people start in: “You know how your neck hurts and you’ve gained a few pounds? Well, you’re not getting any younger, so you might as well face it…your best days are behind you.”

Their voices might sound little like your 5th grade teacher, your old boss, or that bully from 7th grade, but make no mistake. These lies are the work of the evil one. Don’t believe him. EVER.

So you know what you need to do? You tell those evil shoulder critics to shut their pie-holes.

The shoulder people know you well. Think about it, they’ve been building their ridiculous case against you since you were a child. They know how to throw in one or two actual facts to convince you that the rest of their ridiculous claims are legit. (My neck really does hurt, for instance. But if God didn’t still have great plans for my life, I’d be dead.)

The seeds the shoulder people plant sometimes seem truer than they really are when they throw in an actual fact or two. That’s how the lies can blossom into thoughts we might actually start to feed on.Don’t fall for that.

Instead, fill up your mind and heart with what IS true. This world needs you to be clearheaded so you can make the difference you were created to make. You don’t have time to listen to lies if you are going to live out the incredible things for which you were created.

Seriously, friend. Are you hearing me?

Don’t entertain the shoulder people for one hot second. Even if they pretend like they’re just looking out for you and don’t want to see you embarrass yourself.  They’re liars.

You might wonder if they will ever leave you alone for good. I wonder that, too. Probably not. Mine keep coming back like a case of Shingles. But just because they’re there doesn’t mean we have to give them a single ounce of power.

Let them ride along on your shoulder and watch you ROCK your life.  Be brave, even when they make you feel small. Who knows, maybe they’ll eventually get bored and go jump in the fiery lake where they belong.

Are you with me? We can acknowledge that they’re there, but we can never, ever trust the shoulder people. It’s also helpful to have a tribe of people around us whom we can trust…those who will remind us how ridiculous the shoulder people are. And our true blue friends can warn us if we’re not suited for something.  But not the shoulder people.

We’re all friends here, right?  I would so appreciate you telling me in the comments below what your shoulder people try to convince you is true. Tell me, so I can remind you that the shoulder people are full of crap.

8 thoughts on “Silencing the Shoulder People

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  1. How timely! You can only imagine the shoulder people I am dealing with as: Bill is in his last year of pastoring(he’s retiring in July), I’m trying to figure out how to update my resume for…. Ummmm… What(?) a pastoring position(?), or a kids pastor(?), or …. Well, what DO you apply for when you spent your life as a Pastor’s daughter turned pastor’s wife and just became ordained a year ago? And my hip REALLY hurts!


    1. Your shoulder people can just zip it, because God has such great ideas for you. All the wisdom and experience the years have taught you will take you into a new season equipped as never before. Also, the enemy doesn’t know the future! Only the One who has already figured it all out!


  2. Great topic and well said! I am so reminded of Mark 4:24 which says consider carefully what you hear. All the shoulder people are fueled by the father of lies, who is in a constant effort of bringing us down. Good news is he cannot succeed against truth – truth about who God made us to be. Therefore so important to police what we hear and to police our thoughts and to constantly speak truth aloud over our lives.


  3. Loved your post! These shoulder guys keep trying but doing good work anyway is like putting that stinky stuff on your roof that the raccoons hate!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  4. The shoulder people exist because we are always trying to present only the parts of us that we want others to see: confidence, talent, intelligence, humility, etc… The reality though is that we are not two-dimensional characters in a poorly written drama; we are real, living, hopeful yet broken, redeemed yet (still) sinful, forgiven yet horribly flawed, flesh-wrapped souls.

    The more we are willing to let ourselves be open, honest, and in scary-close proximity to others, the less power the shoulder people will have. I believe this is one of several reasons why Christ encouraged us to “keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16-17 MSG). Great article Emily.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful encouraging post. Those little critters have tortured me for years. I have always been not good enough. Newly retired, wife, mom, gramma and friend to a few great people, at 69 1/2 they’re still at it!
    Thank God I have walked with HIM my whole life and I know where to find peace, but they are merciless!
    I have read and reread, and even printed this excerpt. You have said it so well…the illustration is what caught my eye.

    Liked by 1 person

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