Ministry people-pleaser vs God pleaser [Time Out]

Topic / Time Out

Time Out quiet times for the youth worker's soulTime Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
by Benjer McVeigh

Consider for a moment all the people who have an opinion about how you do your job as a youth worker: maybe your senior pastor, church leadership, students, parents, volunteers, plus many others.

The fact that they would have an opinion, good or bad, about your job performance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A parent should have an idea of how your leadership is affecting his or her teenager. And your immediate supervisor will certainly care about whether or not you are doing a good job.

But all those opinions will eventually weigh heavy on your soul.

It doesn’t take too many emails that contain even a small hint of criticism for us to realize that we don’t like people to think poorly of us. It’s no fun to have our decisions second guessed, a program criticized, or our motives questioned. We would much rather have people be happy with us and pleased with the job we’re doing.

Paul has some advice for slaves in his letter to the Colossians that is timely for just about anyone who works under the watchful eye of others, especially youth workers:

Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
— Colossians 3:22-24, ESV

Maybe you’re a chronic people-pleaser. Not only do you desire the applause of others, but in trying to please several people, you’ve been dishonest in the process in an effort to be what others want you to be and say what they want to hear.

Or perhaps you’re in a situation where the opinions of others are weighing heavily on your soul. You feel like you are leading your church or ministry where God is asking you to, but with each passing comment that contains a veiled critique, with each complaint that lands in your email inbox, you’ve become weary.

Take Paul’s advice and remember that you are serving an Audience of One. Yes, I know this is far easier said than done, but the fact is that faithfulness requires us to remember we are accountable first to the One who made us and called us, not to the many we would seek to please. Sometimes people will be happy with us for this, and sometimes not. But our reward is not in the applause of others, for applause always ends eventually. Rather, our reward is an inheritance, an inheritance that Jesus himself has already given us through the cross. The next time you get an itch to hear that applause, remember that despite the approval or disapproval of others, you have nothing to earn, only a life to give in thanksgiving, for “you are serving the Lord Christ.”


  • What do you enjoy most about about hearing people tell you you’re doing a good job?
  • What do you dislike most about receiving criticism?
  • What is one thing in the past week that you’ve done (or done differently than you would have) primarily to gain the approval of another person?
  • Complete the following sentence: “If God’s opinion was the only opinion that mattered, then I would___________________________.”

Benjer McVeigh is a youth pastor in Ogden, UT, where he works with students in grades 9-12 and their families at Washington Heights Church (link: You can read more from Benjer at or follow him on Twitter.

Posted on September 12, 2011

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