From time to time we need to be reminded of who should be calling the shots, who should be on high definition video and who on audio. This scripture has been haunting me since i read it again yesterday. Let’s have a chin-wag on this.
Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians writes :
“Our appeal to you is not based on error or impure motives, nor do we try to trick anyone. Instead, we always speak as God wants us to, because he has judged us worthy to be entrusted with the Good News. We do not try to please people, but to please God, who tests our motives. You know very well that we did not come to you with flattering talk, nor did we use words to cover up greed—God is our witness! We did not try to get praise from anyone, either from you or from others…” (1Th 2:3-6)
This has huge implications for the way i and any leader live out their call.
To begin with, as a leader, my motivation must be right. My heart must always seek only what is good and pure, must be totally ethical. I must not have an agenda, for I stand under God’s judgement as to the motivation of my heart.
As a leader, my words must be right. Every word i speak must come out of a deep conviction of the truth of it, of its relevance to the good news of Christ, of the value of it in the eyes of God, of the fact that it is the very thing God wants said. I must never say what people want to hear just to make them happy with themselves, happy with me or to be popular. Rather i must always speak in such a way as to please God, not play to the crowd.
Furthermore, I am a pastor, I am not an entertainer nor am I a motivational speaker, i do not play on people’s emotions; i do not manipulate people with flattering words, i do not scratch where they itch. True the Bible says that in the last days men will gather to themselves teachers to pander to their whims and tell them what they want to hear, but i do not need to be one of those. i must always speak encouragement but never flattery, always speak truth and never engage in deceit.
As a leader, I must not seek to be praised by people. If i do, it will affect what i say, it will pollute my motives and my delivery. I must only seek to be praised by God, i must live desperate for God’s approval, looking to Him all the time for encouragement. If I look to the people for encouragement i will be subject to their whims and fancies and become emotionally dependent on them. When they praise i will be happy, when they withold praise i will be miserable. I will have effectively placed them in the place of God in my life.
As a leader, I must be free from greed, and must not use the gospel for my own personal gain. I must be totally ethical in all my dealings. And so, irrespective of what people feel or say about my preaching and my ministry, i can boldly say ‘God is my witness’.
For leaders, then, this is the gold standard for judging your life and ministry. Judge by the approval of God within not the approval of people without. It is human nature to be fickle, to swear undying love today and desert tomorrow; but if you hold fast to the approval of God He will keep renewing your strength and encouraging you and you will keep walking in love, joy, peace and victory. Your passion fill stay fresh and your enthusiasm undiminished.
For believers, this is the gold standard for evaluating the leadership you are under. Do they try to please people or God? Do they flatter you? Are they making money off you? What are their motives? Are they more interested in being popular than they are in helping you grow in holiness and in intimacy with God? And if you want divinely led leaders, do not try to make them preach what pleases you, flatter you or simply feed your weaknesses. Look for leadership that will challenge you, love you but correct you, and will rather obey God than obey you.
Do they have God on high definition video?