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Watch out for people-pleasing.

Shepherding God’s Flock (15)

But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2.4

It is becoming increasingly common to bewail what to many seems a kind of captivity of the churches. We have become so used to doing everything we can to make our church a pleasing place—importing elements of pop culture, lightening up the preaching, making sure we have plenty of refreshments, pandering to the feelings, wants, and felt needs of the people, and making sure everything is lots of fun—that we have fallen into patterns of church life and practice that compromise the Word of God.

We’re all having a great time, but where is the power of the Word for making all things new?

How did we get here? Does it have something to do with wanting to please people more than God? This is a tendency present in every age, but one which is often unrecognized until it becomes a tiger by the tail. Gregory the Great saw the temptation in his day and warned against it: “Meanwhile it is also necessary for the ruler to keep wary watch, lest the lust of pleasing men assail him; lest, when he studiously penetrates the things that are within, and providently supplies the things that are without, he seek to be beloved of those that are under him more than truth; lest, while supported by his good deeds, he seems not to belong to the world, self-love estrange him from his Maker. For he is the Redeemer’s enemy who through the good works which he does covets being loved by the Church instead of Him…” (The Book of Pastoral Rule)

We should try to please the people we are called to serve. But we must first reshape the pleasure meter in their soul, so that they learn to delight in and love what they should—Jesus Christ above all. If we delight in the Lord with all our heart, He’ll give us whatever we want, because once we’ve begun to know the pleasure that comes with being in the Lord’s Presence, that’s all we’ll want (Pss. 16.11; 37.4).

But delighting in the Lord doesn’t come to any of us naturally. It’s a holy spiritual taste that must be acquired through instruction, discipline, practice, and the encouragement of faithful shepherds. If all we want is for people to feel good—on their terms, not the Lord’s—about us and our church, then the captivity has begun, and we may as well lock the door and throw away the key. And over the door of our prison cell the charge against us will be written with an iron stylus: “the Redeemer’s enemy”.

Make sure you’re pleasing God and teaching His truth first, always, and in all things. Then do everything you can to bring His people into His pleasure.

Resources for Shepherds
OK, men, this is our last call for you to sign-up for one of our fall reading groups. Here’s a great opportunity to meet some new friends and grow together as we read and discuss important Christian books. Reading groups are conducted via Zoom, include reading and discussion guides, last one hour, and provide a great opportunity for growing in your walk with and work for the Lord.

Here’s the schedule for our fall reading groups:

The Lewis Group will be reading and discussing The Great Divorce. We will meet every other Friday at 3pm Eastern, beginning September 8. Reading and discussion guides will be provided. The Lewis Group is led by Charlie Hammett and me.

On alternating Fridays at 3pm Eastern, beginning September 15, Ralph Elmerick and I will lead a discussion of Robert Banks' outstanding study, Paul's Idea of Community. Be sure you order the third edition of this classic work. We’ll provide the reading and discussion guides.

To join either or both reading groups, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let me know which group you will attend.

We are seeing an increase in men coming together to seek the Lord for revival. Not only in the ministry of The Fellowship of Ailbe, but throughout the country and around the world, men are embracing this calling and devoting themselves to regular, Spirit-led times of prayer. We invite you, men, to join us each Tuesday morning at 10:00 Eastern (US) as we turn to the psalms to guide us. If you’d like to join us, send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll put you on the list for the weekly Zoom link.

From the Celtic Revival
In our Tuesday/Thursday teaching letter, Crosfigell, we are continuing our devotional study of the life and ministry of Columbanus. That greatest of all Irish peregrinati understood the allure of the world, and he warned strongly against it:

Many were converted then, by the preaching of the holy man, and turning to the learning and faith of Christ, were baptized by him. Others, who were already baptized but still lived in the heathenish unbelief, like a good shepherd, he again led by his words to the faith and into the bosom of the church.

  - Jonas, Life of St. Columban[1]

Thus it is agreed that he who dwells amongst deceivers ought to be concerned, as a man who will not escape, unless he shuns them and carefully conducts himself well. How shall we shun the world, which we ought not to love, when we are in the world and are taught to die to it, and yet on the contrary, fold to our breasts with a sort of envious lust that world which we ought to have spurned as it were beneath our feet?

  - Columbanus, Sermon III[2]

We can’t avoid the world, but we can escape it. Not only in our personal lives but in how we oversee and nurture the flocks of God as well. We need to make sure we’re doing God’s work God’s way and not just the way we think will work best. The ways of the world will overwhelm and consume the ways of the Kingdom—nature will “gobble up” grace, as Schaeffer put it—unless we guard the flocks according to the shepherding disciplines Jesus exercised and taught.

If you need a refresher on those disciplines, order a free copy of our workbook, Shepherding God’s Flock, by clicking here. Here’s a thorough study guide to lead you and your church’s shepherds into more consistency in doing God’s work God’s way.

Crosfigell is mailed every Tuesday and Thursday. Subscribe to Crosfigell today (click here to update your subscriptions). Be sure you click each teaching letter you want to receive, (including Pastor to Pastor).

If you’d like to learn more about the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD), order a free copy of our book, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction, by
clicking here. Our book, The Legacy of Patrick, shows from the life of this first great Celtic evangelist why this period of Church history is so important. Order your free copy by clicking here.

Visit our Resources for Shepherds page to read reviews and insights and to discover websites and journals, that can encourage you in your walk with and work for the Lord.

T. M. Moore.

Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the
Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Jonas, p. 32

[2] Walker, p. 75

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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