Just to clarify, the title for today’s reflection is, “Please (verb: cause to feel happy) God, NOT People.” Verses: “Please (adverb: wish or desire to do something) God, NOT People.” I can hear Moses at times leaning more towards the latter title.
A part of Paul’s knowledge and understanding of leading people was recognizing the utter dependency on God. Paul also recognized the necessity to please God, verses pleasing people.
1 Thessalonians 1:4 (NLT) …Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 5 Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! 6 As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
As a pastor, I am put in a unique position of leadership. If you’ve ever been in any kind of leadership, you know that you get bombarded with people’s desires, hopes, and even expectations. As a people pleasing Pastor, I can tell you the last thing I want to do is hurt anyone, or let them down, but at the end of the day, my purpose is to please God, not people. One of the assurances I have, which may not be an assurance for everyone, is knowing that God alone examines the motives of our heart.
I know I mentioned Moses before, but Moses and Aaron serve as great examples of the difference between pleasing God verses pleasing people. The reality is, people-pleasers make poor leaders.
If you remember the story in Exodus 32, while Moses is away atop Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, Aaron is at the base of the mountain melting earrings to forge a Golden Calf… that’s a lot of ears! Aaron didn’t stop there. Because Aaron wasn’t afraid to win with flattery and loved human praise, he not only allowed the people to make an idol of gold, but he also built an altar and threw a party!
Folks, our priorities get fuzzier and fuzzier whenever we begin the dance between pleasing God and pleasing others. A foundational question that should guide our hearts and minds in this area is, “Who am I serving?” Depending on the answer, you’ll either have a large audience filled with people who can’t save you, or it will be an audience of one.
In another one of Paul’s letters, he writes to the church in Colossae regarding the peoples labor:
Colossians 1:10 (NLT) 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
Colossians 3:23 (NLT) 23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.