This is something you need to know about ministers: they are inveterate “pleasers.” They want people to like them, and this is at least part of what’s going on in their heads as they prepare their sermons, or visit the sick, or show up at parties, or post on their blogs.
So what did I do yesterday? I posted an end-of-the-year report showing that more people visited my blog in 2012 than came to a Jay-Z concert, and then I promised that I would bring you an update on KOH2RVA, and then I didn’t.
And I spent part of the day feeling guilty about that.
But I also spent a few minutes in prayer as I was driving to a meeting yesterday morning, and this is what I said: “Lord, we ministers are inveterate pleasers. We want to please everybody. But what if I focused most of my time and energy on pleasing you? What would that be like?”
There’s a story in Luke’s Gospel about the time Jesus sent out the Seventy (or seventy-two, depending on which ancient manuscript you follow). He tells them to carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, but when they come into a town to cure the sick who are there and tell them, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you!” (in Matthew’s Gospel he adds, “cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons”).
The Seventy returned with joy saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” (vs. 17). And then Jesus rejoiced and thanked the Father for these who had done what he told them to do.
They pleased him, in other words, and it gave them joy.
Suppose we do, one day, stand before the Lord. What will we say to him? That we did everything we could to please others, or that we did everything we could to please him?
As an inveterate “pleaser” it helps me to think there’s only one person I have to please today. I’m going to try to do that. I don’t know how many demons I will cast out or how many sick I will cure. Probably not many. But I’m going to try to bring the Kingdom of Heaven an inch closer to Richmond, Virginia today. In other words, I’m going to try to do the things that will please Jesus.
And not worry so much about everybody else.