One of the Mistakes Leaders Make is to shift from pleasing God to people “mere” people. This temptation is always there. There are budgets to be met, goals to achieve, etc. And all those require people.
One of my professors used to tell us that if you make your living from your faith you risk losing either your living or your faith. It was then that he’d say “Two car garage, two car garage.” Essentially we are tempted to fear man instead of fearing God.
“In ministry we will always have those who try to push, manipulate, and even bribe the leader into doing what keeps various people happy. … But the temptation to keep people happy is always nipping at our heels.”
It is there when people pressure you about how long you preach (I don’t have that problem anymore, aside from CavWife floundering if I’ve gone on a rabbit trail). It is there when budget time arises. It is there when people come to tell you how they think we should be worshiping (what song or style or …). It is there when people make special contributions. It is there!
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I tryingto please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1
Paul felt it. He was under pressure from the church in Galatia on the issue of circumcision. Sometimes the pressure is about something of lesser importance. Sometimes, like in Galatia, it is a gospel issue. Either way, we are to remember that we are servants of Christ and therefore are supposed to do His bidding.
That clarifies things. But it doesn’t necessarily make them easier.
“It takes real courage to stand up for what you believe when you know there might be a price to pay in emotional support, financial giving, or weekly attendance, not to mention potential splits.”
I know I’ve had to stand firm at times. People have tried to use money as a lever to get their way. Later they asked how things were financially at the church. I was able to reply- God still provides. We were dependent on Him, not on a family or cluster of families trying to get their way.
I’ve felt pressure from friends about matters. I tried to do what I thought was right (I don’t know if I did) and for years there was “something” between us.
But we are answerable to Christ, not our peers, friends or congregants. Kraft talks about building a culture of candor instead of fear. A place where we can disagree on non-essentials without reprisals. No revenge. No retribution.
If you don’t resolve this issue by relying on Christ and serving Christ, you will probably leave whenever the kitchen gets hot or surround yourself with a bunch of ‘yes’ men. Neither is a God-glorifying resolution to the inner tension you will inevitably experience.
The time to deal with it is before that moment comes. You need a plan of attack before the temptation arises, or you will get lost in that tension.
I’m not saying you are free to adopt a “my way or the highway” mentality. I’m saying you need to adopt and cultivate among the other leaders a “God’s way is the best way” mentality. Sometimes discovering God’s way may take longer than you want it to. It might even look like people pleasing since God treasures not only the purity but the peace of his church. In other words, not every disagreement is a hill to die on. Sort out the things you can flex on and the things you cannot. And then get ready because the challenge is going to come.