I was on the phone with a new pastor who wanted my opinion. Apparently he had been experimenting on Sunday mornings with allowing time for people to “share” scripture verses, prayer, ideas they thought were from God that the church would benefit from, etc. This isn’t an easy thing to manage. You get good sharing and bad sharing. Some stuff is from God and some from… who knows where. Allowing a time like this and making it work can be like herding cats. Anyways…one individual in his church contacted him to let him know that he did not like this new change in the program. “This is weird. It’s out of control. This will turn off visitors,” said the squeaky wheel. The pastor told me, “Dave, maybe I should go back to the way we did things before. Maybe this guy is right.” And then, without even thinking, I said, “Remember this principle…never change your direction or practices because of one or two people.”
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to keep everyone happy. I’m not suggesting we try to make people unhappy, but you can’t please everyone. I remember one wise old pastor who told me, “You can’t avoid offending people. You’re going to offend. You might as well decide who you’re going to offend and offend them. They’ll leave, but they probably would have left anyway.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about his wisdom but it made me laugh, and maybe he’s not too far from the truth.
I don’t know how many times I changed something just because a squeaky wheel I didn’t want to offend didn’t like something we were doing. Eight times out of ten that person left anyway. Never change your direction, practices or policies just because one or two people squeak. Chances are a year from now they won’t even be in your church.
I’m not saying we don’t listen to people. I’m not promoting being head-strong and plowing forward no matter what others say. God can speak to us through our people. They will, at times, have good ideas and suggestions we need to hear. Having said all that, they can also misdirect us. So remember, never change your direction, practices or policies just because of one or two people. Don’t grease the squeaky wheel.
Have you had a similar experience?