Monday Morning Leadership Devo
(Originally published on March 9, 2009)
I ran out of time on Sunday before I finished preaching on the text I had chosen. I am preaching through the Book of Galatians and I launched the series focusing on the first 10 verses of chapter 1. But I only made it through verse 9. As I looked over my notes after I preached both services Sunday morning, I thought that verse 10 would make an excellent focal point for our devotional time on Mondays.
Passage for Reflection:
Galatians 1:10 (ESV)
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Let’s begin with a question: Is the greatest threat to the church from without or within?
As Christians, we tend to focus on all the perceived external threats to our faith. The growth of Islam, separation of church and state, media attacks on Christian faith, evolution in public schools, etc.
The sad truth is that churches die everyday. In fact, 3500 churches will close their doors just this year. And while it may seem like I’m going out on a limb with this next statement, I don’t think that I am when I say that without exception, all of these churches will collapse from within and not from without.
I believe that the greatest threat to any church is from the inside. Let’s not forget that it was Judas that finally got to Jesus. I also believe that churches collapse due to a failure of leadership. More specifically: when leadership seeks to please people instead of pleasing God. You see, God will never allow His will to be upstaged by the will of the people. Never. But in many churches, people put their wishes, their desires, their will, first. It’s sort of in our nature to be selfish like that. That’s where leadership needs to step in and step up and point people to the will of God first. Oh, the battles can be great. The will of “we the people” can be compelling. There are many church leaders who don’t have the stomach for the battle and who cave to becoming people pleasers. But I have learned one big problem with trying to please people – it just can’t be done. As a pastor, I can tell you that at any given time, there is always someone who is not happy with me (and that is putting it mildly). I have never been able to please all of the people all of the time. As I said, even Jesus was just 11 for 12. It is in the nature of people to be dissatisfied. We just like to point fingers and play armchair quarterback.
This is why God’s will has to win. This is why we turn to the Bible for instructions on how to behave and treat one another. God is clear on what He expects. When His will wins, the church wins, we win, you win. My experience is that when I put God first – when I seek to please Him and not man – I can lead with confidence. And here is what I know: if someone is not happy with me, it’s really not me they have a problem with, it’s God. Jesus even said that if they hate you, know that they hated me first (John 15:18). This means that the unhappy person will be unhappy no matter what. That means you need to pity them and pray for them, but do not attempt to please them.
“Lord, give me the strength to seek after your approval and not man’s. Amen.”