Isn’t it interesting that the Bible says that the fear of God is the start of wisdom but the fear of man is a trap (Proverbs 29.25). You cannot do both. You could equally say the fear of man is the end of all wisdom – trying to please everyone is dumb, and it is a dumb thing that sadly many leaders do.
Every single church in the world has people come who try and bully the pastor. They try and make the pastor feel guilty, feel afraid of them, try and make him keep them happy. That’s not the job of a pastor, or any leader. My job as a pastor is to keep God happy, I am truly dancing for an audience of one.
The larger a church gets, the harder it is. I remember being a youth pastor of a church of hundreds, I had to report to the senior pastor, I had to report to the board, the children pushed me to please them and keep them happy, the parents wanted things done a different way from all of those groups of people. The volunteers who worked for me had a different opinion on what made them happy and what I was expected to do. To live to please all of them would have been madness, and if I tried it ministry would become a burden not a joy.
The way to handle this is to spend more time alone with the Lord. Spend time finding out His will for your life and how He wants you to handle situations. You need to develop a spine that means you can tell someone in your church – no, that’s not how this is going to play out, this is not what is going to happen next, and your suggestion is not going to be followed. Godly people will understand!
You cannot serve two masters, so make Jesus your master and serve Him. There is only room for Him as the Lord of your life. You need to stop asking yourself “but what will (insert person or people here) think if I do that!”. You need to learn how to fear the Lord and honour Him above the voices and opinions of others. Either the fear of God will eradicate your fear of man, or your fear of man will stop you fearing God. You need to learn how to be motivated by Jesus only.
It’s easy to say, but it does require humility, devotion, tenacity, a thick-skin and some wisdom! It takes boldness to say something to a church or have a difficult conversation with someone difficult that might cause them to leave – and take a friend or two, and all their money with them! But we must be bold. We must do what the Lord says, and we must do it regardless. There will be persecution in this life – all those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. We are here to serve Jesus and speak truth, not be as popular as possible. Paul said if I am trying to get men to approve of me, I would not be approved by God (Gal. 1.10).
I have had rich people make threats to me, I have had people refuse to tithe unless they were allowed in the band, I have had people tell me how unloving I was not to give them the pulpit and promote them, I have had more than my fair share of people making sure I know that my behaviour, my attitude, my actions are not pleasing to them, but I am not living for them, I am living for Jesus. I know what God has called me to do, what kind of church Tree of Life is supposed to be and I will take a very firm stand for that. It has cost me a lot, but the reward is always greater than the cost.
You cannot keep everyone happy and do what Jesus wants you to do – choose Jesus! Choose the Word. It is a real temptation because deep down we all liked being liked! It is hard to be constantly disrespected so we need to keep close to the Lord and know we are doing what He respects to stand. Spending time with the Lord makes us bold.
Some of you need to get set free from the opinions of others, and stop living in fear of their opinions and ask Jesus for the grace to hear His voice and His point of view above the noise of others. And be willing to be unpopular if it is doing His will His way.