Who Are You Trying to Please?

October 29, 2020

I once heard a sermon by Father Raniero Cantalamessa at Asbury Seminary chapel. He had a very unique and interesting position in the Catholic church. He was the “Preacher to the Papal Household”. It was his primary job to preach to the Pope!

When I heard the man preach it was clear that he knew Jesus and that he was no ordinary Catholic priest. In fact, I imagined that he was more like a prophet than a priest; and the Catholic hierarchy probably understood early on that he wasn’t going to play the game of climbing the church leadership ladder. The Pope himself probably understood that Father Raniero was going to preach the truth to him and not waste his time with kowtowing, flattery and fluff.

When people try to please other people rather than God, they will fall into a ditch. I have noticed that often you can smell such people out if they are generous with flattery.

My friend, Denny Wayman, gave me a heads up when he said that those people most generous with flattery on a Sunday are the people most likely to facilitate your removal when you preach something offensive to them. Take all flattery with a grain of salt!

1 Thessalonians 2:4-6  says, “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 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! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.”

The Apostle Paul (the author of 1 Thessalonians) was a person who knew God and knew who he was trying to please. If such a person gets promoted or demoted really doesn’t matter—just if she or he pleases God!

So if you have a chronic case of people-pleasing, here is the prescription…receive a healthy dose of God’s grace as you consciously reject undue satisfaction from the praises of people. A little praise from people is fine. A little is appropriate. We all want to hear a “good job” when we have worked hard at something, but that is not where your worth comes from! Your worth is derived as a beloved child of the King! Your “atta-boy” or “atta-girl” comes from believing and obeying God—the things that truly please God.


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