In the ministry there are lots of important things to be done; but many times the urgent things take priority. You know how it works, probably happens in your office, too. You have your list of things that you alone need to take care of and other people come and make their agenda, your agenda. I learned long ago (although not perfect in this) that saying “no” to a lot of good things can be liberating, because it allows you plenty of time to take care of the important tasks.
I have a friend with a servant heart who told me a story. One day he was ready to leave the office and a co-worker asked for some help on a project. After a few moments of helping, it appeared the co-worker had dumped the project, walked out the door and headed home, leaving my friend with the other guy’s project. One tends to not want to help if this is the sort of abuse one can expect.
Take a look at this episode in the life of Jesus:
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (John 7:3-4)
Jesus was under pressure from his brothers, they wanted him to go to the Feast of Tabernacles early and show off his miracle-performing abilities. John 7:5 also tells us that not even these brother were believing in him. Like many Jews, these brothers were looking for someone to “wow” the crowds and eventually lead the people in a rebellion against the Romans. The Feast would have been an ideal platform for launching Jesus’ political career.
Jesus could not be persuaded to become a crowd-pleaser. He knew that his mission on earth was not to win fans, but to redeem people from their sin. Keeping his ultimate purpose in mind, Jesus chose to go to the festival, but in secret (John 7:10). In his wisdom, Jesus could not be persuaded away from his purpose, not even for one day of miracles and popularity. His choice to enter the festival quietly led to a day of heated debates with his enemies and intense discussions with the crowd but no flashy miracles (John 7:11-12, 14, 25, 30). By the end of the day, “many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him” (John 7:31).
Regardless of the agenda others have, a leader needs to stand firm and keep their goal in focus. Leaders with integrity know that they cannot allow themselves to be persuaded to cave in to people-pleasing or glory-grabbing decisions. Pursuing integrity may not always be the popular or easy path, but it usually proves to be the wiser path.