People Pleasing – A Dangerous Business

As leaders, one of the toughest challenges faced is the desire to please the people we are leading. More times than not, this can get us into trouble. This stems from the same desire to please people which a dangerous one. When we lead to please people we lose sight of why we are really in leadership. Living or leading to please the people is one of the biggest mistake people can make.
One of the most notorious examples of this is that of Pilate’s decision to crucify Jesus.
To see the whole story read Luke 23. Luke 23:15 …”as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.” Pilate faced a tough situation, should he sentence this man to death because that is what the people were demanding? It was clear that neither King Herod or Pilate could find anything to base their decision on. At this point Pilate was forced to think on his feet in one of the biggest decisions of his life. As leaders, we must be able to make important decisions with little time to contemplate them. Some of these decisions are short lived and some will write our history as a leader.

Easy To See

In this case, it is easy to point at the decision Pilate made and what he should have done. We have had plenty of time to think it through and contemplate the end result in the quiet of our own home. Think of Pilate’s circumstances, people screaming, he is sitting proudly before the people as their leader. Everyone looking to him for the answer pushing him for what they desire.
Luke 23:22-25 NIV84 …I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” What do you do when people are demanding something from you that you can see no basis for?


As leaders, we are placed in our position of leadership based on someone believing in our ability or potential ability to lead. A favorite quote of mine is from Andy Stanly where he says, “Leadership is a stewardship, it is temporary and you’re accountable.” A few key words to highlight, “You are accountable.” Pay close attention to who is accountable. The people you are leading are not accountable, you are!

In comparison, as parents, we are faced with a similar decision. Do we give our children what they want or even demand? Is what they want always what’s best for them? Certainly not! Yet parents give into their children everyday when they know they shouldn’t. Parents are accountable for the welfare of their children. They are held responsible for their health and their upbringing. They live with the consequences of their decisions as parents.
The decisions made by parents can not only effect them, but their children and grandchildren.

Exponential Consequences

I think of this concept as exponential consequences. We are usually blind to these consequences and how long they will have an impact on us.
Luke 23:24
24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.

Our legacy as leaders will largely be determined by the decisions we make. In this case, Pilate is known as the person who crucified Jesus. His entire life is characterized by this one decision. Hopefully this will bring clarity to the importance of your decisions as leaders. If your life was summarized by the outcome of one decision during your life, what would you want it to be? The next time you are forced to make a split decision, remember Pilate and think how you want to be remembered.


Table of Contents

Recent Articles


Improve your well-being in just 10 minutes per week.