06
NOV
2013

Who Are You Going to Please?

Most of us are people-pleasers. We will please almost anyone if it keeps us from pain or adds some “bling” to our lives. Ministers can be terrible people-pleasers; but they don’t seem to know who to please, so they try to please everybody or ignore anybody.

One pastor I know would lie in a fetal position behind his office desk on bad Sundays after his sermon, crying and hiding, hoping that no one would find him. Not only was he not found, he almost lost himself and his family.

Today we speak of “boundaries” – that is, to think and reason who you will let “get in” your soul and in your face; who you will trust and who you might wish to please.

Here is something about Jesus that reflects on this: “All [in the synagogue] spoke well of him [Jesus] and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” [and then, a little later] “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this [what he said]. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill … in order to throw him down the cliff” (Luke 4:22,29 NIV).

Interesting isn’t it? We may try to please people and then they inevitably turn on us. At least they did for Jesus and they probably will for you if you stand for something worthwhile.

Psychologists say that people are motivated by the appreciation of others, especially significant others, like parents or bosses or God. But not everyone will be pleased by how you live your life and so you have to choose who matters. Who will you please?

When I was hired as the team-leading pastor of CapChurch in North Vancouver, I boldly said that I would do all I could to please God, and satisfy my elders but I wouldn’t overly labour to please the pew-people generally. I figured that I would dissociate running after all these people’s whims, worries and wants. 16 years later I think that was a good decision. And I have learned that pleasing your spouse is a good idea and in so doing you are often pleasing God in the bargain.

This is not to say that we need to be rabble-rousers or demagogues. But its not like the English bishop who once remarked, “Everywhere Jesus or Paul went, there was either a revival or a revolution. Everywhere I go, they serve tea!” (An old preacher’s story. Who knows if its true.)

I don’t want to be like that. At the end of the day, I want my life to count for something and for a long time. This will mean I am going to run into opposition somewhere along the way. And, knowing me, probably a lot of it.

Paddy Ducklow
My name is Paddy Ducklow and I am the "Blog Pro" entitled with the privilege of assisting faculty, board, staff, pastors, students, etc. to write their thoughts and become published! Email me with great ideas at pducklow@carey-edu.ca.
  1. Big Kahuna Reply
    Too many of us want to be the "good boy" or "good gal" as ministers. Without differentiation and having Jesus as the leader, we begin to define ourselves by popular opinion and by those whom we long affirmation from. I always felt that some Hollywood movie stars and some pastors have the same syndrome - the need for significance and measuring one's status by the opinions of your fans. So how do we break it and make that choice to do things that count NOT for ourselves but for the kingdom?
  2. Ed Hird Reply
    This is so true. You have helped me, Paddy, while serving as my doctoral advisor, to face some of my people-pleasing tendencies. It does not serve God's Kingdom purposes. Thank God when we begin to wake up from this tendency. I see so many pastors destroyed by this.
  3. LHS Reply
    Assuming "most of us" excludes us "pew people"!

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