Liked or Respected

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches November 2014 E-Newsletter




Pastors are people and, like most people, they like to be liked. Few people enjoy telling others “no” and in some way disappointing them. In fact people who do not care whether others like them and enjoy being negative are people I want to avoid. Yet one of the major characteristics of leaders is that leaders do the right things because doing the right things is simply the right thing to do. That often means not meeting the expectations and agendas of certain people. However those leaders who do the right things well, may not always be liked but they are usually respected.

I recently did two congregational consultations on consecutive weekends. Being liked was a high value for both pastors. However, for one pastor being liked was more important than being respected. Therefore he was not open to doing the right things. For the other pastor, he recognized that for the congregation to achieve its mission, he would have to make some decisions that would make him unpopular with certain people in the congregation. Since he believed he should do the right things, he determined that respect needed to be a higher value for him, than likeability.

As we look at the life of Jesus Christ we see a person who was often loved by many people. However we also recognize that the implementation of his mission took precedence over wanting to be admired and adored. He also made enemies, confounded his friends and in some cases strongly rebuked those who gave him admiration because fulfilling their wishes and expectations would have hindered his mission.
As I reflect on the early years of my pastoral ministry I now understand that being liked was often more important to me than being respected. And as a result I did not make certain decisions that I knew would be unpopular, did not confront behaviors, even if they were clearly sinful and did not employ some strategies that would have achieved God’s mission for the church. We often talk of people who, though they know what to do, cannot “pull the trigger” and make the tough decisions. Often the reason for such action is a great desire to be liked.

The tragedy is that pastors that are often deeply loved, accomplish little in terms of the mission Jesus gives his church and are seen as people who need to be cared for and protected, so they are not hurt. They are often treated more as a favorite grandchild, or even a victim, more than being given respect as a leader. And the overall ministry suffers because multiple agendas are allowed to be pursued rather than our Lord’s agenda for His Church.

Respected pastors may not be universally loved, but they are usually respected for standing up for that which is right regardless of circumstances. So too is our Lord Jesus Christ.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]