Leaders, Don’t drink the Popularity Kool-Aid!

Modern ministers and pastors have pressure to perform and pressure to be popular, but popularity is like an intoxicating drug that, once it wanes, can cause people to think wrong thoughts and do bad things to keep it or get it back. Saul was overcome by jealousy and distraught by the chants of the people “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands!” (1 Samuel 18:7) He failed to realize that David was the one sent by God to protect the people and that it was all part of God’s plan to raise up a great successor.

In contrast, when John the Baptist’s followers told him that people were starting to follow Jesus, John encouraged them to do so as well! King Saul was more concerned with popularity than with purpose. He took on a murderous spirit and planned to kill David, his loyal servant. Later, when Davd became king, his own popularity dwindled at times. At one point he and his family were fleeing the palace for their lives! Though he indeed struggled with that, he remained faithful to his call and to the One who called him.

Of course, we want to get the gospel message to as many people as possible. There’s nothing wrong with building a platform with followers or packing out a church or event, but we must be cautious here about our real motives. It’s also wise to remember that the same fickle crowd that praised you one week can be the same exact crowd that cries, “Crucufy him!” the next!

It is important to periodically ask yourself these questions: Are you high when numbers are high and depressed when they dip or are low or modest? Do you feel tempted to choose friends and acquaintances based on whether they’re in a popular crowd? Have you left a friend in the pursuit of popularity? If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of these questions. Don’t despair! It’s good to recognize it and ask God to help you adjust to focus on the right things in relationships and purpose

We’ve all been challenged and tempted in this area at one time or another, but we must resist this unique temptation. Let us avoid the temptation to seek to be popular. Solomon knew better than to pray for that. Good leadership may bring it on it’s own, but it’s not the end goal. Do we want to be like and minister like Jesus? Let’s remember that He left the 99 and went after the 1. In striving to be like our King, may we be careful not to leave the 1 to seek after the 99.