How Prevalent are People Pleasing Pastors?

This February Inter-Varsity Press will release my third book titled, People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership with a forward by Dr. Ed Stetzer. When I began writing the book, I sought to discover how prevalent people pleasing motivations existed among pastoral leadership.  What I found  confirmed my suspicion.

people pleasing leaders

I commissioned several phases of research on nearly 2,300 pastors that included men, women, young, old, poorly educated, and highly educated from both large and small churches in North, Central, and South America. Surprisingly 79% of those leaders in one survey of 1,000 pastors and 91% in another survey of over 1,200 pastors admitted to people-pleasing tendencies to some degree in their respective ministries.

In one survey I provided a opportunity for pastors to anonymously share their pleaser stories. So many pastors responded that I compiled over 100 single spaced pages filled with heart breaking stories of how people pleasing hindered their ministries. My research also dug deeper to find out the negative effects pleasing caused. Leaders responded that when people pleasing influenced their leadership, these difficulties occurred in their respective ministries.

  • Difficulty in leading the church as you believe you should: 32%
  • Difficulty in accomplishing personal and spiritual goals: 31%
  • Difficulty with the lay leaders in your church: 29%
  • Difficulty in handling the same situation down the road: 27%
    • In the Lifeway sample of pastors in churches over 250, 37% said this was an issue.
  • Difficulty with your staff: 23%
    • In the Lifeway sample of pastors in churches over 250, 38% said this was an issue.
  • Difficulty in your family: 17%

Even though people pleasing can negatively affect our spiritual leadership, we can make changes, which is the gist of my book. In fact, I believe that when we appropriately deal with our pleaser tendencies, we’ll experience these positive effects.

  • greater creativity
  • healthier teams
  • vision clarity
  • renewed passion
  • more internal peace
  • clearer decision making
  • successful conflict management
  • decreased anxiety
  • less defensiveness
  • clarity in hearing God’s quiet voice
  • more fruit from spiritual disciplines
  • less mental distractions

If you’d like to see a cool video about the book, you can view it here. The book is available now for pre-order on all the online sites.

I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.

–Herbert Bayard Swope, American editor and journalist; first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize

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Some content taken from People-Pleasing Pastors by Charles Stone. Copyright(c) 2014 by Charles Stone. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com

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