It was a Thursday morning in the Spring of 2019. Two packs of the delicious Burger King cini-minis were on the table in front of me. Across from me sat my Dad, with his sausage biscuit and orange juice, ready to drop some Biblical wisdom on me.
You see, I love to preach.
But what I love in my sinful flesh more than preaching is the words of affirmation that often follow it.
Four days prior to this Burger King breakfast with my Dad, I had preached in big church. And much to my surprise and dismay, not many people came up to me to tell me how my sermon was incredible, my wit next-level, my illustrations relatable, and my applications on the money. No, it was mostly crickets.
So, what did past me do to get my words of affirmation quota met?
I went fishing on Facebook.
I posted something along the lines of “Thank you church family for letting a young guy like me get the pulpit on the Sunday morning”. And boy it worked. It worked perfectly (insert chef’s kiss).
My Dad knew that’s a dangerous game to play. Wanting words of affirmation is not inherently wrong. Intentionally leading in a way that you know will get you the most words of affirmation, at the expense of the message of the gospel and the truths contained therein? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
My Dad encouraged me with this Proverb:
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. – Proverbs 27:2
In my foolishness at the time, I was like, welllll I didn’t say I was great, so I didn’t actually live foolishly. But the point was the same. I was trying to lead in such a way that made people like me.
When Paul and his missionary team came to Thessalonica, they came without much concern as to how they were viewed by those they brought the gospel to.
but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4
They spoke, not to please man, but to please God.
What is at the heart of your interactions with others, the conversations you have, the statements you make? Are you seeking to please the people you’re speaking to, or are you seeking to please God?
Back in the day, I knew a girl who would match her style and interests to the person she was interested in. From skateboarding to soccer to artsy movies, her personality would transform. It was distinct in her life, and it honestly helped me to see where it was happening in mine as well.
Do you do the same?
When it comes to church work, I’ve had to realize that it’s literally impossible to please everyone. We can love and respect everyone, but when it comes to decisions, not everyone will be pleased.
And I. Hate. That.
I want to be the guy absolutely everyone loves.
In earlier years of my ministry, I would play the field, subconsciously mind you, but play it I would. Oh, you think we should do this in music or in missions or in this particular ministry? Right on! Oh, you have the complete opposite view point? I’m with you.
Flattery. Flattery. Flattery.
It’s gross to me now.
I’m not above this, but I make a conscious effort not to do it.
I know that God has a plan for me that is greater than the here and now. One day I pray by God’s grace that after he’s done molding my character, I’ll be a senior pastor. And my prayer is that I will have security in who I am in Christ so as not to play the flattery game.
Now, if you know me, you know I’m tremendously passionate about relationships. We can disagree charitably. There are way too many Christians who are jerks when it comes to their beliefs vs. the beliefs of another. But if ministry is about pleasing those around me, I’m failing.
If your life is first and foremost about pleasing those around you, you’re likely not living in a way that honors God.
There are aspects of what I believe as a follower of Jesus that make me pitied by some of my peers and hated by others.
If I’m on this earth to please people, I’m going to cave on core Christian doctrines.
But if I’m on this earth to please God, I am going to charitably and gently hold the line.
If I’m on this earth to be affirmed, I’m going to ask you to tell me often how great I am.
But if I’m on this earth to please God, I am going to live for an audience of One, the One who knows my heart.
In His Name,
If you want to help me make Biblical content, you can click the link below and sign up for just $5 a month!