“How many in here admit to being ‘people pleasers’?”

box trap with pencilMy hand went up halfway.  After all, there were many in my church at which I was Lead Pastor who would say I wasn’t a people pleaser but I knew I struggled with it.

The facilitator of this “Marriage and Ministry Seminar” was quick to call me down, “You KNOW you are!  That’s why you feel like you’re supposed to raise your hand but you’re not sure if you should.”  He laughed.  I laughed.  My friend with me laughed.

The point of this exercise was to prove that all pastors are people pleasers.  After all, “people” is what we do.  Without people, you can’t be a pastor.  And what pastor doesn’t care one iota if his people are happy?

It got me thinking.  And it should you too.

How many of us are people pleasers?  How many of us decide what to do based on who will be offended rather than on what needs to be done?  Really.

Proverbs 29:25 reads…

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

At the root of our people pleasing is one thing: fear.  And if we’re really, really honest: it’s more of a fear of our own rejection than hurting someone else’s feelings.  People can get over hurt feelings but what about us…can we?

Part of being a leader in any way, shape, or form is the ability to make the “tough calls”.  In my universe, it may mean saying “no” to a great ministry-related opportunity because it lays outside of our core values.  Or it could be pulling the plug on a ministry that’s no longer doing what it set out to do.  That’s leadership.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t factor in the human equation.  I want people to like me and I know they won’t like me (even if it’s only for a little bit) once I make those “tough calls”.  What if that fear ensnares me to the point where I’m crippled to inaction?

What if you feel that tugging in your heart to talk to that friend about Jesus or about how they’re living?  Do you risk it?  What if they’re offended?  Can you take the rejection?  If you walk too far down that path, you’ll be ensnared to inaction.

Alternatively, trusting the Lord protects us from these snares.  Rest assured, those people-pleasing tendencies will still pop up from time to time, but when they do, you know that’s a trap.  When we’ve already determined Who we will follow, walking the path is much easier.

“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back,” Jesus replied, “is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Trust in where the Lord is calling you to go.  Trust in who the Lord is calling you to be.  Trust in why He has you walking in the first place.  Trade the trap of people pleasing for Jesus-pleasing.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Jesus in Matthew 25:21).