Leading Worship–Pleasing God or Pleasing People (Galatians 1:10)

I read the verse of the day today on Bible.com. I’ve read it many times before, but I never thought about it like I did today. This passage speaking to me today as I work to put on my first cantata as a church worship leader. We just finished a church Anniversary Sunday celebration where I put together the music for a combined group from all the services at my church.

Throughout the past month or so, I’ve been stressing over whether or not people will like the arrangements that I have produced. The thought has crossed my mind that people will disapprove of the interpretation or tempo that I have chosen to work with for some of the songs we are preparing. I even wondered if one of the songs would sound too “show tune-y.” I struggle and stress over what people will think.

I imagine that most of us have thought of people-pleasing pop up into our minds from time to time as we put together programs. Is my voice okay? Did I embelish that phrase too much? Do people notice that I missed that chord? Should I be fancier in my playing or singing? Or the worst one–“so-and-so can do this better than I can.”  Think back to the times this past year, past week, or even today that anything like this has come up mentally. Then read this scripture:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

galatians-1-10Shifted Tables

I’ve often read the first part. This is easy to think of. Am I trying to win God’s approval or human beings? Given the choice, I choose God. It’s hard not to pick God in a multiple choice question like that.

  1. Who do you serve?

a. God

b. money

c. people

d. none of the above.

2. Who are you trying to please?

a. society

b. your enemies

c. strangers

d. God

Anyone who proclaims the name of Christ would answer God in both of those. But how much do we really ask ourselves that question throughout our lives–when the question isn’t asked? If we go through our lives (including worship leading) and constantly ask ourselves this question, we can and will be better off in our appreciation for God–the overall reason for our worship and for our existence.

In this passage, Paul was calling out the people who were turning away from THE Gospel to a fake one. This false gospel was perverting the Gospel of Christ. I can see this in today’s world when there are churches just focusing on the feel-good parts of the Gospel. It’s not that the feel-good parts of the Gospel are bad? Of course,they’re good. It’s not that they’re all false, but concepts and scripture are picked over to suit the desired result of the people. When we talk about the Bible with only part of it, we are perverting the Gospel of Christ. On the other hand, we can’t focus on the sins of other people due to reading only the condemning parts related to that sin! This, too, is perverting the Gospel. Yes, God did say “You shall not commit murder,” for instance. But He also said to “Love your enemies” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Some men pick and choose scripture when they read in Ephesians “wives, submit to your husbands.” They fail to read more that call men to love their wives as Christ loves the church–he ultimately gave His life for his bride. Here’s the thing–changing the scripture to fit our desires isn’t pleasing God, it’s pleasing people.

To be people pleasers, as worship leaders, we can tend to gravitate towards songs that are happy. Happy songs aren’t bad, but we have to remember the reason we are singing them. Are we singing them to please people–to make them feel good about singing? Or are we trying to take people in all situations and turn their eyes to God? If you are worshipping in the congregation, do you base how good worship is based on how happy it makes you feel? Or do you base it on how much it lifts up God?

The Second Half

But, then we read further:

If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Wow! This speaks volumes to me. I can’t even put into words all the things that are going on in my head. But here’s a preview:

  1. Putting people first takes away from our purpose of lifting up God.
  2. Our identities as Christians should all contain the desire to serve Christ. If devoting our lives to pleasing people takes away that identity, we’re lost.
  3. Serving with love and pleasing are two completely different things. God calls us to serve with love. Pleasing people to the point of changing the Gospel is not what he calls us to do.
  4. EVERYTHING we do should be through the lens of gazing at our Creator–so if pleasing people comes from pleasing God, our primary purpose is still pleasing God–we are still servants of Christ.

Summing it up

In a recent post, I talked about the idea that people can seek what they can get out of anything involving the church. The thing is, it’s not about pleasing people–not even about how you are pleased by what goes on. Rather, everything is about pleasing our God. We should treat everything in awe of what he’s done. Know He is God and marvel at Him. Take a moment to be still and realize His greatness.

Now, how can you lift Him up today? Please comment below.

Everything in Awe
Everything in Awe by Sidewalk Prophets http://amzn.to/2ewc2Qb

EVERYONE should listen to this song. A student introduced me to it the other day. Such an incredible song lifting up our God!