The Problem of a People-Pleasing Pastor - Part One

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” - Galatians 1:10 (KJV; emphasis added)

As a Pastor, the propensity to please people must be consistently under the scrutiny of the Spirit of God and the scriptures. As an under-shepherd for the Good and Great Shepherd I am called to model the Master, show compassion, be kind, love and feed the sheep. However, there is a line that the Lord leads us to draw that requires us to demonstrate discernment and differentiation between caring for the sheep and pleasing the sheep. Too often pastors throw in the towel of tough love and begin lobbying for the approval and the appeasement of people.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” – 2 Timothy 4:2 (KJV)

In this scripture, the Apostle Paul is providing direction that is applicable to all Pastors calling them to be deliberate and disciplined to teach the truth while also confronting and correcting the people of God. Unfortunately, there are sometimes a Pastor is misled to believe that if he works really hard to get people to like him they will respond by doing the things that he needs them to do (i.e. serving, consistent attendance, and giving with a willing heart). However, it is a problematic Pastor that purposes to please people rather than God.

From our opening text the Apostle Paul brings this problem into focus by pointing out that his first priority is to please the Lord and not men. He is not concerned with crafting his messages in order to maximize congregational acceptance and approval. Instead of giving a carnal congregation what they want he will deliver the divine dictates from his Lord and GOD.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. - 2 Timothy 4:2-4 (KJV)

Again in scripture we find the Apostle Paul encouraging a young pastor to stop from engaging in entertainment or encouraging itching ears or people pleasing messages. Instead, Paul exhorts him to preach the Word! The text implies that Paul is establishing a bold line and setting the difference between himself and those preaching another gospel. This gospel is anti-biblical in that it is man-centered and people pleasing!

Pastors must be careful to take the calling of the Lord and admonition of Paul seriously so that they do not stray into vain and hollow teaching. Followers of Jesus Christ must also be alert and aware of their Pastor’s messages, comparing them to the truth of scripture so that they are not deceived by feel-good sermons.

In next week’s blog, we will visit how this vice to please people rather than God is a mistake for the man of God and problematic for the people of God.

Not a Sermon But a Thought,

PBKSR