categories: personal, preaching
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June 11th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

30 comments (+ Add)

God’s Opinion Matters Most

For years after preaching, I always felt vulnerable. When I greet people after a sermon in the lobby, if no one says, “Good sermon, Pastor,” I think I must have bombed.

When I would walk in the door after church and see Amy, I was always hungry for her approval. Did you like it? Did I do a good job?

Although it will always be somewhat important to know if you are connecting with people, I am growing to care less about their opinions.

I am no longer spending as much time asking, “What will bring people to church?” Instead I’m asking, “What will bring glory to God?”

I won’t lie and say that people’s opinions don’t matter to me at all anymore. But I can tell you truthfully, that more than ever, God’s opinion matters most.

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there are a total of30
  1. 1Tom Arnold
    Jun 11, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Craig, first thanks for maintaining this blog. I am a brand new reader, but your insights and the ensuing conversation have been extremely helpful so far. As a relatively new pastor, I struggle with “what will bring people to church.” Thank you for reminding me that while that question is important, it is far less important than what will please God.

  2. 2tony
    Jun 11, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Craig, you just do what God tells/told you to do. I make very few promises in life to people but there are two I will make at the drop of a hat. One, God loves you and Juesus saves you. Two, if it’s God, what else matters.

    I will footnote it with this: even though we may not care too much what people think, we want to draw people to Christ so we al have be effective in our communication to others. you have a gift for that for sure. I can tell when you are stating/teaching one of those ‘God told me this’ issues, but it comes across as a passion and desire for God and his plans, not Craig’s to do list. btw - your passion has been showing lately!! watch out world!!

    btw - i’m obviously not a pastor, but i like to break rules so i post on here, and to monitor S williams

  3. Jun 11, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Well Said!

    For me, it’s an issue of life seasons; as I go through the leadership/personal growth seasons, I care less about what people think I am putting out and more about what God has put in me.

    Anna Meadows does a great job of articulating about individual struggles w/ insecurities and “How To Not Find Your Worth in What People Think.”

  4. Jun 11, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Well said Craig. You just need to say what God tells you. But I think also that a body will benefit from multiple voices. In a group of 100 Christians, there’s more than 1 pastor.

  5. Jun 11, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Craig…

    A lot of people talk about this subject…
    and about puttong God first, and just saying what He gives you…

    That is great, but it is even better when it strikes the heart, that deeper area, and then start doing it like you have…

    Your preaching has changed a lot over the years, for the better I think… thank you so much for sharing how you have grown!

  6. Jun 11, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Craig,

    Thanks for the post and its honesty. I think many pastors fall into the same hole that we preach about/against to our men: finding their identity in their job. I used to crave the “Nice sermon pastor” that flowed from lips (the same ones every week) :) I listened to my wife say “yeah” or “nay” (although she was kind. she would say, “I heard you do better.”) When I finally realized what I was doing (and needing) and stopped craving approval I felt so much freedom. I now have to be able to go to God and say, “Did I honor You? Did it please You? Did it meet Your approval.” If not, then I need to ask why. If I sense His “okay” then I move on. Again, great post!

  7. Jun 11, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Great post Craig, thanks for your transparency.

    My Homiletics professor in Bible College always said, “When you finishing speaking the first question you need to ask is “Lord are you pleased with what I just did?’” I have tried to do that consistently over the last 13 years, but have often, too often, been more concerned with the congregations thoughts.

    The funny thing is that when I think I hit it out of the park,they think I did OK or bombed, but when I think I struck out, they think I hit a home run. Go figure.

    It is times like that that I am reminded God’s opinion matters most. There are far to many people to try and impress, so preach to connect with the masses, but preach to impress an audience of one.

  8. Jun 11, 2008 at 8:07 am

    WOW, the swerve makeover is hot! Love it! Thanks for this post on opinions. I haven’t matured enough to not need them yet, but when godly leaders post stuff like this, it deeply motivates me. Grateful, Heather

  9. 10jim
    Jun 11, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Thanks for the reminder. I shoot to make sure that God is pleased when I speak but also I rely on my wife who is normally brutally honest about if I spoke in a way that will bring glory to Him. Even then it is ultimately about bringing the message that He lays on the heart and in the life to bring.

  10. Jun 11, 2008 at 8:29 am

    This is probably one of the areas that I wrestle with most not only with preaching but also in general. People’s affirmation is easier to measure. God’s approval is based on faith. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

  11. 12Jan
    Jun 11, 2008 at 8:40 am

    this is a personal struggle for me - as a worship leader and just as a person. I like to be liked. I want to do a good job. I want to know that what I do matters. I want to make a difference. It can be hard sometimes to be true to what God is saying to you and at the same not get discouraged if there is a lack of response. This is a battle for me. I am addicted to positive feedback. There - I said it! But, as you say, I am growing in this. For one, I now recognize this tendency in myself, so that’s a beginning. Being tuned in to God first helps me the most. But I still struggle.

  12. Jun 11, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Great insight, Craig! Something I’m learning as well…an audience of One.

  13. Jun 11, 2008 at 10:05 am

    The last several post have been great to read. Wondering if I have anything in me for another sermon, seeking approval, etc, have all been on my heart for…I guess years really. This last year has been tough, and there has been many a day that I thought I would quit and do something else, anything else. However, God has been faithful, which always amazes me, to stick with me and grow me in the process. The last few posts seem to be right where I’m at, and I have been encouraged. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing.

  14. Jun 11, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Right on, Craig! I am an approval addict too. I hate it…

    Ironically God gave me a wife that doesn’t play into the my-husband’s-a-pastor-and-incredible-at-everything-he-does mindset. She’s honest with me and it has made me better, but also made me more focused on if I really connect the people to God and his Word. That’s what she comments on more than anything…if there is a heart connection to God’s Word then it was a successful talk.

  15. 16Judy
    Jun 11, 2008 at 10:17 am

    What will bring people to church WILL bring glory to God.
    LUKE 14
    “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.
    I understand the point being projected, but never forget the very heart of God’s will is His pursuit of people. And that PLEASES HIM. Bottom line…God wants His House full, so we shouldn’t feel bad about wanting that also. It’s all good!

  16. Jun 11, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Craig,

    Don’t you think that sometimes you don’t know the affect of a sermon until years later? What amazes me is how years later people quote things that I said. I realize that they actually listened. You have a much larger audience than me so I would imagine your impact is even greater. I still remember “Disturb me” and probably will never forget it!

  17. Jun 11, 2008 at 10:39 am

    This is the place we all need to be in as we serve God!

  18. Jun 11, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I try not to be consumed with people’s opinions but I certainly strive to see life change happen in their lives. Giving glory to God through the sermon has more to do with the preparation than the presentation. I won’t give to ‘them’ something that God hasn’t worked in and through me… I must be connected. This helps me replace the pointed finger and ‘you’ statements with open arms and ‘we’ statements.

    I don’t pray for sermons, sermons come from my prayers.

    Lovin’ the dialog in here!

  19. Jun 11, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Craig, this is so good. When we rely on people for affirmation we are bound to be disappointed at times. Kind of like when 20 people tell you “Awesome message!” and the 1 hurts you. We tend to forget the 20 “yeas!” and dwell on the 1. But, God never disappoints. And, when our desires become God’s desires, He lifts us up on wings of eagles. Of course, He probably does that anyway, but for the sake of making a point, I’ll use that one :-)

  20. Jun 11, 2008 at 11:32 am

    We need to be aware of our audience, but not dependent on their pats on the back. If we are dependent on their feedback, we will either leave each service with our head hung low or our nose in the air. Either result is detrimental to us. We need to finish each Sunday with our Father’s word, “Well done”.

  21. Jun 11, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Does it matter if it is 7 or 70,000 in your congregation? So long as you are abiding by His will and fully obedient, then You are being used to build His kingdom.

    That said, pastors need encouragement as well. I think pastors do more so than anybody else. God bring joy and comfort but usually that is in the form of others around us that we call brothers and sisters.

  22. Jun 11, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    I’ve never taken the time to post a comment on your blog. This drilled me right in the heart though. I feel like I still struggle with this. Just today I asked my wife if “she liked” what I had done. As well as being excited that others were excited about what I was doing.

    Knowing that we will always fail others expectations of us on some level at some point, and knowing that we will ultimately fail our own expectations of ourselves shouldn’t we just try to live for God’s expectations. Live our life through a “God Filter” and not worry about what others think.

    Thank you for cracking a callous off of my heart with a short and sweet blog!

  23. Jun 12, 2008 at 12:20 am

    This reminds me of when Francis Chan addressed the catalyst crowd…”What if we actually preached what Christ told us to Preach…and then did it”

  24. Jun 12, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Man…that resonates with me…
    As one involved in leading people into worship, that was always a huge burden on me…performance. As a result, I remember times in which I walked off of stage wanting to just disappear because I messed up, for example. It was to the point where, if there were complements, I assumed they were being made to just make me “feel better”. God really convicted me of my selfishness, my lack of focus on Him.

    For me, I have decided that before I am concerned with anything else, my heart must be in the right place. If I am to be leading worship, the first priority for me is that I myself have a heart of worship (that is not supposed to be a cute song reference, by the way…hehe). Until then, I am handicapping my ability to be used by God.

    Thanks for the post Craig!

  25. 26Tammy H
    Jun 12, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Amen! Let me add that when you have ones around you that you know “seek first the kingdom of God” that they will usually comment (confirm) the word He has given you to say. These might be friends or a wife, but you must be certain these individuals have died to themselves and live for Jesus. That they always answer with the Word and not what they feel. Jesus was never worried about what he said but what He said always was lead by the Holy Spirit…no matter how piercing it may have been to some. Jesus spoke with poise and Love but a few times He had to get in their face. Let me take this itme to say ‘well done’ for One Prayer, Craig. I am so excited about watching us move closer as a body of Christ….anticipating the people to get out and encourage more to break down the wall of “our church”.
    “May the God of hope fill you will al ljoy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13

  26. Jun 12, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I needed to hear this today. I am aware of this tendency in myself but still find myself preparing my sermon with the kudos in mind. God help us. Thanks for your transparency, Craig.

  27. Jun 12, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Several years ago Pat Robertson interviewed Cynthia Clawson on the 700 Club. Cynthia Clawson is/was a Christian singer who had “worship concerts”. Pat asked her when and how she spent time personally with the Lord. She surprised him when she said it was during her concerts. You cannot lead worship if you are not a worshiper. Just worship the Lord and the people will follow.

  28. 29Greg Flippen
    Jun 12, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Looking back through many stressful years, I found that before I really became a believer, much of the stress that I experienced in life was because I was trying to make decisions to please other people. How crazy and difficult is that. Most people are so finicky, they don’t even know what it takes to please themselves. Eventually I reached this point where I didn’t care what other people thought, which isn’t necessarily to healthy either because that can lead to selfishness. After meeting my wife who helped me develop a stronger relationship with God, I’ve found it much more rewarding to seek God’s approval foremost. Striving to please God is so much easier than trying to please man. Pleasing God may not necessarily make the problems in your life go away but you will experience much greater satisfaction and much less stress.

  29. 30Terry G
    Jun 12, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Craig: to be brutally honest, I’ve never heard a single message that I didn’t hear my Master speaking to me through it. I find myself squirming more often than I’d like to admit, and feel convicted to make changes in my life. You set the bar pretty high for yourself, however, it’s not important to hit the mark you’ve set for yourself, only the mark The Master has set for you, if my opinion counts for anything, I think you do just fine.