Paul commands Timothy to “Preach The Word!” 2 Tim 4:1-2.
The temptation to compromise is one that all preachers and pastors will face. From the large church to the tiny church, from the big city to the little towns, the temptation to become an ear tickler is there. All of us want to be liked, so the allure of popularity entices us to not preach the whole counsel of God, or worse, to offer alternative meanings to avoid stepping on toes.
In small-town settings, being “different” is exaggerated. Our town likes to name everything “Community” and we highly value community, as I wrote about here. The temptation is to compromise convictions in order to better get along. For example, we choose not to work with some of the other churches because of theological differences. The pressure I receive to overlook those differences would surprise you.
On the personal side, I do not drink alcohol. I’m a teetotaler. This makes me different than a large majority of people in my community. My family and I choose to not be around drinking, therefore we do not attend many events because alcohol is present at most of them. The temptation to compromise that personal conviction is present often. I have been told by many people, “You can have a beer, we won’t think any different of you.” I highly doubt it.
Early in my pastorate in Jordan, a young lady referred to me as a “hardcore Christian.” I took this as a compliment, but her intention was to say that I took this Christian thing a little too seriously.
Being different is part of being a believer. Being countercultural isn’t always biblical, but being biblical is always counterculture. Standing tall and firm against the temptation is hard.
Here are a few tips to help you when temptation comes.
Stay in the Bible
We are so easily convinced by smooth talking and persuasive arguments. You must remember Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Daily, consistent, and genuine time in the Word is the only antidote to the venom of worldly wisdom.
Find Comfort in Christ
The need to be liked and loved by others is powerful. The enemy uses this to tempt us to give a little in our convictions. When we find that Jesus is all we need, we can let go of the desire to be popular. Pastor, if your encouragement comes from butts or budgets you are dangerously close to compromising. Jesus alone and Jesus only. Like Jeremiah wrote in Lam. 3:24, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I have hope in Him.” If anyone knew what it was like to stand in opposition to the social culture, it was Jeremiah.
Remember Who You Serve
Forgetting that we serve Jesus first is easy to forget when the busyness of life is in full swing. We tend to focus on making the church happy. Concerns with family issues or a great many other things. We can’t make everyone happy all the time, but we should be dedicated to making Jesus happy. He is the one Who can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I close with this passage:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~ 2 Tim 4:3-4
Don’t let the temptation to be popular turn you into an ear tickler.