An Audience Of One

Have you ever gotten caught in the trap of trying to please everybody? Or at least caught in the dizzying trap of trying to please too many people? Or maybe just trying to please only two people - people with obvious conflicts of interest?

Companies make this mistake with boards whose focus is unclear or conflicted. Small businesses often try to make too many people happy. Clubs, mothers, teachers, restaurants, politicians, children of divorced or fighting parents - all are subject to the stress of trying to please everybody. You just can't do it!

Why, even God can't please everybody. The farmer is praying for rain on his fields the same day a Scout leader is praying it won't rain out a camping trip. You autumn enthusiasts are praying for extended periods of fall color while those of us with debilitating allergies can't wait for the first couple of killing frosts. The elderly man who hopes for a mild winter without heavy snows because of his heart condition is counterbalanced by a fifth grader who prays for snow so he can miss school.

If God himself can't please everybody, should it surprise us that we can't? Only a fool thinks he or she can do what is beyond God!

So whom should you try to please? Family members who want more of your time or a boss who wants more hours at the office or on the road? Your company's shareholders or your clients? Your quota or your conscience?

Maybe we should all take our cue on this one from Jesus. He said, "I don't try to lease myself but him who sent me" (John 5:30). Everybody watched Jesus, and every pair of eyes had an expectation. Yet he kept his life in balance by honoring one supreme obligation, one highest overseer. His one boss was God. He had an audience of one and was dedicated to pleasing him above all else - and all others.

If my first question is "What does God want of me in this situation?" then my focus has been automatically centered. If you commit to doing the right thing above the pressing or politically correct thing, you have defined your moral duty to be more critical than any competing selfish interest. If you settle your heart on what God wants you to do, it will always be right to do that - no matter what anyone else thinks of it.

I know full well that this rule of thumb doesn't settle every hard case. But it sets the right tone for a life well-lived. It solves more cases than we might want to admit. And it frees one of an overwhelming need for the approval of others that can dominate and destroy a life. Jesus was never stressed out over the fear of rejection, for he always knew he was serving an Audience of One.

In the end, it is only God you want to hear say, "Well done!" His opinion is the only one that matters. Are you clear about whose approval you will seek today?

© Rubel Shelly

To sing along click here for the lyrics.

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