Brian Clough was a well-known figure around the sporting arena; and still is maybe for anyone 30 years of age and over. I have sat in many a dugout with him with pre-match expectations high as was the norm, but never had I ever been dragged by the scruff, over somebody’s knee and told to take a message to somebody on the pitch—literally moments before the referee was about to start a Premiership game. You have probably guessed that that’s what happened to me by the one and only Mr Clough! So, I ran onto the pitch, a fool for Cloughie and ran to Peter Davenport; much to the amazement of the fans and most of my team mates.”What on earth are you doing?” Davo asked me (not quite as polite as that!). “I’ve got a message from the gaffer.” I replied quickly. “Hurry up then, the ref’s coming over.” “OK, the gaffer said if you don’t get him a goal you’re walking home.” It was at that point Davo really told me what to do—in other words get off the pitch. This was the issue, the game that day happened to be Davo’s last one for Nottingham Forest before moving on to Manchester United hence the weird request. As I neared the touchline, I jumped back into the dugout quickly with the referee right behind me in hot pursuit. “Mr Clough.” The ref enquired in an unhappy tone, “What’s going on Brian?” In his own inevitable way, with a wry smile on his face he replied, “Young man, I really don’t know, he just got up and ran onto the pitch!” The whole dugout laughed as I received a telling off from the referee. What happened you may well ask?
Well, I wanted to please my boss, I would have done anything for him to please him, I was a man pleaser!
The world of football and indeed sport can be a difficult stadium to achieve success in as you try to please your own fans all the time (when you can’t—that’s impossible) you try to please your coaching staff and team mates, (which can’t happen all the time either) then it seems to go to another level off the pitch. You try to please your neighbour and Fred Bloggs and any other man and dog you come across. Your life becomes one of seeking recognition and reward from others; you get your self-worth when others tell you how well you have done, so you work for the ‘Well done!’ and the ‘Wow, your good at that! ‘but, unfortunately it becomes a snare, because when things don’t go well, the compliments stop and you feel like a failure, suddenly, your life can spiral into self-doubt and depression. If that happens to be you, it’s time to stop. When you transfer from the man-pleaser’s camp, to the God-pleaser’s squad, things change drastically; you understand that whether you are good at something or not, God still loves you the same. God’s love is not something that you can earn by good works or by your personal performance. The bible tells us that our good deeds are like filthy rags to God; so, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether we are good or get things wrong sometimes, God loves us anyway. Now, I know how some people think and feel I must add a caveat to that last statement. I am not saying that because God loves us whether we are good or whether we fail, that it’s ok to fail and we can just do what we like because God loves us anyway! God expects us and tells us through scripture to live a life of obedience and holiness. He will not allow ‘things’ to go, or ‘turn a blind eye’ to some of your white lies or wrongdoings. The bible says:
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet. (Nahum 1:3)
The apostle Paul makes mention of pleasing man or God in Galatians 1:10: “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.”
I believe we all want to please Father before man, I believe the biggest reason we don’t is fear, the fear of man to be precise, but if this is a struggle for you, maybe it’s time to redress the balance by doing some business with Father making sure that He is on the throne of your heart instead of anyone or anything else. He is our keeper and protector. Perfect love casts out all fear. We do not have to live in the fear of man because of the victory Jesus accomplished upon the cross for you and for me. It is a snare to fear man and seek his approval, the best option is to please God and seek His approval in all we do.
Sometimes when we speak the truth to people, whoever we are communicating with just doesn’t want to hear it; it can be one of the most difficult things to do because of potential repercussions. The truth is often not received well, even when it’s done in love.
Here we have Paul addressing the church of Thessalonica with the same issue, we see that he doesn’t allow the fear of man or any repercussions to hinder him from speaking the truth. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, sowed speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”
My choice is to be a God pleaser, my prayer is that you would become one too. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at home, at work or anywhere else, please Father by the way you act, speak, think and dream. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but shout it from the rooftops. Remember we are all playing to an audience of One.