FAITH AND REFLECTION — In college, I read a survey reporting that on average eight to 10 per cent of a congregation are displeased with their pastor. I initially felt shock and dismay at the statistic. However, that survey served to help me settle some very important matters.
As I contemplated the statistical information, I arrived at three conclusions. First, from a positive perspective, 90 to 92 per cent is not a bad grade. Second, being a chronic people pleaser is stressful at best, and unhealthy at worst. Third, more important and far-reaching, I established, in my mind, a principal that has provided a guideline for all of my ministry years. It is not my highest priority to please people. My highest priority is to please God!
Is it possible to please God? Apparently it is and it does not include a long list of do’s and don’ts. God approves of many things, but what does it take to please Him? Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Jesus clarifies the matter in John 6:29 saying, “God wants you to have faith in the One He sent.” So … the way to please God, is to believe in His Son – to become a Christian!
Having God’s pleasure as our highest priority doesn’t mean that we don’t care if others are pleased or not. I take pleasure in and obtain benefit from the satisfaction of others, but this cannot be my primary concern. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that those who please God, are often quite adept at pleasing others as well.
Not everyone has this matter settled. A pastor once asked his congregation of about 200 people, “How many of you think God is pleased with you?” An 11-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl raised their hands – no one else!
I’m reminded of a gifted, young pianist who performed, for the first time, in front of a large crowd. The audience sat in awe as they listened to the beautiful music filling the auditorium. During the entire concert, their eyes were riveted upon this musical prodigy. As the pianist’s final note faded, the audience burst into applause and rose to their feet … except for one gentleman sitting at the front.
The young musician left the stage feeling dejected. The stage manager came and congratulated him, but the musician replied, “My performance was a total failure!” The manager asked, “How can you say that? Look out there … everyone is standing and applauding except for one fellow in the front row!” The disconsolate young musician said, “Yes, but that man is my teacher!”
Like that young pianist, the accolades of the crowd matter little compared to the pleasure and approval of the Lord Himself.
“Our only goal is to always please the Lord… .” (2 Corinthians 5:9)