Approval of Men or the Blessing of God.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
In pastoral ministry, there are many and assorted temptations that bishops, presbyters, and deacons face. None is more enticing than wanting the approval of the people in your parish at the expense of obedience to the Lord’s direct commands.
Pastors are basically very insecure people. They lead a volunteer army. At any time a congregation can decide that they do not want to follow their pastor’s leadership. Every pastor knows this and must find his security and approval in Christ rather than in the praise and appreciation of his parishioners. If the pastor does not, he will find the up’s and down’s of pastoral ministry to be more than he can bear. The pastor will constantly be worrying about his performance and whether that performance has met the expectations of his congregation.
Spiritual maturity for a pastor means finding a place of Sabbath rest in Christ. This rest transcends the worries, cares, and anxieties of pastoral ministry giving a pastor a sense of security in Christ that human words cannot explain. He is able to experience Christ’s presence, hear God’s voice, and stand in God’s authority as he ministers in Christ’s stead.
Nothing is more easier, pleasanter and more likely to win people’s respect than the office of bishop or priest or deacon, if it is preformed negligently and with a view to securing their approval; but in God’s sight there is nothing more sorrowful, miserable and deserving of condemnation. Again, there is nothing in this present life, and especially now, more difficult, toilsome and perilous than these offices if they are carried out in the way our Lord commands; but, at the same time, nothing is more blessed in God’s sight.
St. Augustine of Hippo cited in Trials of Theology, eds., Andrew Cameron and Brian Rosner (Christian Focus, 2010).