You meet this guy who always shows up when he’s needed. He never wants to fail people. If anything he’ll go out of his way to serve others. You think, if everyone was like him how far would this ministry go. Why can’t people be this committed? But then you realise something, he doesn’t take criticism kindly. He’s easily injured by correction and plagued by a lack of attention. You notice especially that when a certain figure is away he’s not as committed. You come at a crossroads because you need his energy and commitment but you don’t want to take advantage of them. Well, what you have is a classic example of a man-pleaser.
The problem with man-pleasing is that it’s hard to distinguish it from genuine commitment and most people don’t even know it’s their ailment. We think we are sold out for the Gospel and its good works but in truth, it’s our idol begging us to worship. If we give our best to church but feel bad when people don’t appreciate it then we have a problem. If our attitude to service changes with who’s around then we are pleasing people. If we easily give up serving on account of criticism or lack of attention then we have an idol in pleasing people. Unfortunately, people make for very bad idols. They will without fault fail us. Worse they will take advantage of us. False teachers especially love this kind of people because with the right words they’ll do everything for them. But is there hope for us?
Please a Different Man
There’s one man who we can please and he’ll never fail us. One man who will never take advantage of us and for whom we have all the motivation to serve. He’s the man who dragged a cross all through Jerusalem and was hung outside the city for our sake. If you want to please a man, try Jesus. If anyone deserves our time and attention let it be Jesus. The beauty of it is he’s always watching, unlike that ministry leader. He’s always available, unlike that pastor. He’s always there to help us unlike that deacon.
Listen to what he says.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
People pleasing leaves us with a heavy burden and we never get what we want. We come wounded by those we sought to give our best to. We come discouraged by their heavy words and frustrated when they didn’t realize how much we were putting in to serve them. But coming to the cross we meet Jesus who takes off that burden from our shoulders. We meet Jesus who frees us to serve a greater cause and to do it willingly and joyfully. We meet Jesus who calls us to walk a path he has already walked. We meet him who has already won the race and awaits us across the shore. We meet Jesus who holds us when we can’t walk anymore. One who carries us with his own hands. We meet a man worth pleasing.
Kill this Idol Daily
The thing about idols is that they tend to resurrect when we least expect them. It’s easy to make a resolution not to be a man-pleaser only to fall right back in. Get me right here, I’m not saying we shouldn’t honour leaders. I am not saying we shouldn’t serve people. If anything that is why Jesus came, to serve us. But we need to be careful with our motivation. We need to keep evaluating our attitude to service. Are we doing it on account of what Jesus has done for us? Are we following in his footsteps? Are we seeking to obey his word? Or are we doing it to please others? To get the approval of that ministry leader? To hear those words, we can’t do this ministry without you. Or are we waiting for our master’s words, welcome good and faithful servant?
When the temptation comes to please people more than God let’s remember what men are like. Don’t be fooled by the compliments of men. They will not give you what you need. Only Jesus is worthy of our worship. Men will have ulterior motives but Jesus has already served us even before we accepted him. He loved us before we even gave him our attention and died for us when we were still in our sins. If you substitute Jesus for that man of God or that ministry team you will for sure regret it. They won’t give you what you want and worse they might take advantage of you. In addition, you will become a burden by requiring constant recognition and approval. The right attitude is to give our worship above and render our services below without expecting any returns. May the Lord help us as we commit to killing this idol!