“You can please some of the people some of the time,
all of the people some of the time,
some of the people all of the time,
but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
– Abraham Lincoln
A person of influence who has a constant need for everyone’s affirmation will have nothing but stress and heartache. A parent, pastor, boss, or any other leader who must have the incessant approval of those they influence will undermine so many of their efforts.
Because there will always be folks who don’t like something you are doing or calling them to do. A child doesn’t like to hear their parent say, “Clean your room.” An employee may have their own ideas of how something should be done and they will disagree with how their boss tells them to do it. On and on we could go. Actions that are necessary but unpopular will simply go undone if the leader lacks courage.
But, if you are a person of influence who is motivated by a love for those you lead and a love for the organization you are a part of, then you must do the right thing even though it may get folks upset.
A parent’s primary goal in life isn’t to get the approval of their children. It’s to develop mature, godly adults who (among other things) know how to clean up after themselves. Craving their approval at all costs will undermine their attempts to reach that goal.
A boss’ primary goal in life isn’t to get the approval of his/her employees. It’s to focus on making his/her employees better people while accomplishing a task necessary for the viability of the business. Craving their approval at all costs will undermine their attempts to reach that goal.
A pastor’s primary goal in life isn’t to get the approval of his congregation. It’s to develop mature followers of Jesus who are getting fit for here and Heaven. He must confront sin and spur others on to holiness and service even though it may not be popular. Craving their approval at all costs will undermine their attempts to reach that goal.
One thing to keep in mind, though: Leaders will not always be right. There will be times when you need to apologize for being wrong or for not listening to the wise counsel of those you lead. There will be times when you need to acknowledge that you didn’t lead with compassion and hurt people in the process. Never be too proud to apologize but, at the same time, never be too cowardly to lead even though it may be unpopular.
There was a time when Jesus experienced this very thing. He was confronted with whether or not to do the right thing and heal a man. He knew that if He did, it would get some very influential folks angry. He did it anyway.
“Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.”
“Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, ‘Come and stand in front of everyone.’ Then he turned to his critics and asked, ‘Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?’ But they wouldn’t answer him.”
“He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, ‘Hold out your hand.’ So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.”
Leadership isn’t for cowards. I suspect that’s why God sends leaders through very trying times. Sometimes, it seems that they have more trials in life than most. Could it be that God needs to toughen up leaders so that they develop the strength of character and courage to lead His people to accomplish great things?