People Pleasing Pastors by Charles Stone is a book. Of course, if you read the title, then you know that. I'm sorry for repeating information. It might make you dislike this review, and I want you to like the review. Because if you like the review, you might like the blog, and if you like the blog, then you might like me, and then I'll be valid as a person. Unless, of course, there's not enough of you who like me to offset the ones who don't like me.
Then I'm in trouble.
While the above sounds a little over-the-top, People Pleasing Pastors points us to the problems of trying to lead a church while also keeping everyone happy. You look at the issues, you look at the problems, and then you make no decisions, take no action, because someone will not be pleased.
Stone's work here is excellent. He takes a hard look at why so many in the ministry are driven by approval. Then, quickly diagnoses the results of that obsession. From there, he constructs a framework of positive action to center our approval desires in the right place: the approval of God.
Stone avoids jumping too far into the Frank Burns trap. There's a scene in MASH, one of the times that Frank is left in charge of the 4077th, where Radar tells Frank that folks won't like his new orders. Frank says "I didn't come here to be liked," and Radar replies, "You're off to a good start."
That's often the response to people-pleasing that I see: just decide to throw everyone overboard, and that is a non-starter in ministry. (And in life, to be certain.) There is a way to methodically work through the need for approval and shift our focus.
Stone guides you through that process. Admittedly, I think his engineering background comes through somewhat in places where it seems formulaic, but the guidance is still valuable. Further, having pastored for 30 years shows Stone to be someone who has had to live his own advice.
I would quibble a bit with the usage of The Message for Bible quotations at times in Stone's work. He does identify it as a paraphrase, but I'm still not a fan of citing it when there are translations aplenty to use.
All in all, though, I liked People Pleasing Pastors when I first read it. Now that I have time to read it and apply to me, though, I may be less inclined to it. After all, I don't think my ways have been pleasing to Stone. :)
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