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Like! How Much Does Being Liked Matter in Ministry?

Let’s admit it. We like to be liked. We like to see the thumbs-up! You see…the thumbs-up represents approval…acceptance…a vote of confidence…positive feedback.

Many historians trace the origin of the “like” gesture to ancient Rome where the fate of the gladiator was determined by a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Thumbs-up meant the gladiator would be spared, and the thumbs-down meant his life was over.

As a leader, how should the “like” influence us?

  • If being liked is the source of your motivation, you’ll get discouraged and probably won’t go the distance. There will be times when people don’t “like” you or your decisions. In I Samuel 30, David was not “liked.” In fact, the people were talking about killing him. Talk about a bad day as a leader! But it says he “encouraged himself in the Lord.” His motivation for leading was not being liked by man…but from his relationship with God.
  • Don’t let “like” fuel your pride. There will be times when you will have a lot of likes in ministry. Things will be going well. People will rally behind you and sing your praises. Don’t let it puff you up. The dangerous flip side of being discouraged is becoming overconfident in our own abilities when people begin to “like” what we are doing. Like or unlike…don’t believe your press reports either way.
  • Don’t base your confidence on being liked. Normally, when we get a thumbs-up, our confidence level goes up, and when we get a thumbs-down, our confidence level goes down. Let your confidence come from who you are in Christ, not from being “liked.”
  • Know who you need a “like” from when moving forward with a plan. If you are a leader, your natural tendency is probably to move forward quickly once you believe it’s the direction you should go. But…you must also have the wisdom to know who needs to “like” it and give a thumbs-up before you proceed. Many young leaders rush ahead too soon before getting a thumbs-up from the right people. Yes, it takes longer to bring people on board and go through the proper “like” channels, but it’s necessary for success.
  • If you want people to like it, then let them have a say in it. People buy into something when they have a part in creating it. Want them to not “like” what you are doing? Then just shove something down to them. But if you want them to “like it,” then collaborate with them and let them help you create it.
  • There will always be someone who “unlikes” you or your ministry. Get used to it. You can’t please everyone. No matter what you do, someone won’t like it. In fact, one of the best ways to fail is to try to get everyone to “like” you. 
  • Don’t let your personality be the reason people “unlike” you. If someone doesn’t like you, it should be because of your position, not because of your personality. If people don’t like you because you are rude, overbearing, or inconsiderate, then you need to work on it. Know your personality. Find out your blind spots and fix them. When you offend people, find out why. It may not be because of “what” you said, but “how” you said it. If people are saying, “That’s just the way he/she is,” then he/she needs to change! Our personality should reflect the fruits of the Spirit.
  • Embrace feedback. Positive and negative. You can learn from both. Create a culture where honest feedback is sought after, where people feel comfortable sharing it, and know they will be heard.

Would enjoy hearing your thoughts on “like” or “unlike” in ministry.

What are some things you’ve learned about being “liked” or “unliked” in ministry?
How do you lead through “unlike?”
How do you get people to like a vision or leading from God?
What are some personality traits that you’ve had to work on?
How do you to stay motivated?

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Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 30 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)