As disciples of Jesus we have to make a decision – a very important decision. Are you going to please God in your life and ministry or are you needing to please people. Many disciples are trying to please people – in their daily life, their ministry, and their leadership. And, as a result often the people dictate their actions, thoughts and therefore their life. Early in your walk with the Lord it is imperative that you examine your life and make a quality and permanent decision that you are going to live your life so that it is pleasing to God regardless of the consequences.
Paul talks about this in several of his letters to the churches found in the New Testament. In Galatians he states, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). He decided early in his Christian walk to please God. As a result, he had a tremendous impact upon his world that extends even to today through his writings.
The most important thing that I have learned in ministry as a leader is that you must choose who you lose. You are not going to make everyone happy. You need to figure out who you are going to make unhappy – and it should not be God. This means that there will usually be someone who does not like you or does not like what you are doing. There will be those who simply write you off. And, this is okay because even Jesus could not and did not please everyone. But, He did please His Father who publically acknowledges this a number of times by saying “This is My Son with whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1)
We are to live our lives before an audience of one – our heavenly Father. We are to focus on pleasing one person – our heavenly Father. We are to look for approval from one person, our heavenly Father. We are to work for one person – our heavenly Father.
This will be difficult for some because they are co-dependant and need to be needed. Helping and pleasing others makes them feel good and feel wanted and needed. This will be difficult for those who are grace motivated (Romans 12) because their compassion and caring is often in overdrive and they want to help everyone who has a problem and fix them. This will be difficult for those who believe that God accepts them and is pleased with them because of what they do; those who are performance driven.
As disciples are called to do what Jesus tells us to do – these are called good works (see Ephesians 2:10 and John 14:12). But only those things Jesus tells us to do. There were many in the days when Jesus was training His disciples who did many good things but did not receive the blessing or thanks of the Lord for doing so. They did good things but not under the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit and so were not pleasing to God and simply fulfilled man’s agenda. (see Matthew 7:22-23). They were not God-pleasers in the least.
So, the decision that all true disciples have to make is simply put as: popular or powerful. You can’t be both.