I recently had a conversation with a church leader who had just finished his term on his church’s leadership board. He shared that this had been his fourth term, and he had never been so relieved to see a term end. He shared how many complaints he had received, and difficult discussions he had been a part of. He felt like his time on the board had been a failure because so many people seemed dissatisfied. Here’s something thats very interesting though. By many measures his church experienced one of the best periods in its history. Worship attendance, membership, baptism, children’s ministry, and youth ministry all set all-time highs. The church is seeing people come to Christ like never before, and is doing a lot to better their community. They’ve taken a renewed interest in global missions, helping to plant churches and encourage and support missionaries like never before. The church is doing God’s work in incredible ways, and yet this leader has been completely beaten down by the feelings of a few.
We are all leaders, whether we like it or not. We are all leading our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, and our friends, even if we don’t have an official church role. Here is my big question for today: as leaders, are we predominantly serving God or people? Here’s what I mean by that. Are we seeking to lead based on Biblical principals and the movement of the Holy Spirit, or are we seeking to simply make people happy? I know I sometimes find myself seeking to make people happy rather then pursuing a Biblical purpose. Like the leader I mentioned at the outset, sometimes I simply don’t want to make people unhappy, so I listen to them rather then listening to God. Now, is it good to make people happy? Yes, but not if it is at the expense of living out God’s purposes.
Take a look at Nehemiah. Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. At first the people of Israel were behind him, but then things got difficult. The work became harder, enemy nations began threatening them, the financial burden increased, and people started complaining. In fact, Nehemiah 4:12 tells us that TEN TIMES groups came to complain to Nehemiah, to get him to stop doing God’s work. These were not outsiders, but Nehemiah’s own people. Here was Nehemiah’s response:
Do not be afraid. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome. Nehemiah 4:14
As you lead for God people will inevitable become upset, leading to complaints and perhaps even unrest. In those moments remember that our service is first and foremost to God. Remember to trust that he is great and awesome, and to remind those who are struggling to trust in Him as well. Following God’s ways has always led His people to face opposition. But, following God’s ways has always led to God’s ways proving to be the best. Let’s always be leading for God instead of being led by the feelings of people.