Monday, 29 June 2009

People pleasing

As is the case with many ordained women and men, I am a people pleaser.

It’s a good trait for clerics, indicating that we truly care for others.

It’s a bad trait for clerics, indicating that we seek affirmation from others, rather from deep within.

It’s especially bad when we are incessant in our searches for words of gratitude from others, and feel unhappy, restless, or downright mean when they are not forthcoming.

I was tempted to fall into the people pleasing trap when, a couple of Sundays ago, one of the choristers at St. Boniface said “you must join the choir, you have such a nice voice”.

I glowed for a while. But during the week I decided that singing in the choir would be bad for me. It would place me centre-stage where once again I could bask in some minor heroic pose.

That would not be good for me.

Mostly these days I need to simply sit in a pew with folks for whom I care, sans “star-billing”.

So I sat in the pew last Sunday at St. Boniface on Siesta Key. I sat, as I always do, with Adrian and Anno Swain – an older couple who are the greatest role models one could hope to meet - and their son, Ken (a man about my age).

I tried to pay attention to the Liturgy, and for the most part I succeeded.

I was almost lost in wonder, love and praise.

I paid especial attention to the sermon. That’s always worthwhile at St. B’s. It “spoke to my condition” (as the Puritans might have said) and I became very teary as I listened to words that became soul-manna.

Of course I will preside at the Eucharist again. Of course I will preach. I am blessed with gifts for those ministries.

And it is more than likely that my “people pleasing self” will be present with me in the pulpit and at the Altar.

But last Sunday, for once, having said “no” to the choir, I was able to abandon centre stage and be content with my good seat in a pew.


  1. And you do have a lovely voice! I enjoyed sitting in the pew behind you this week as I was able to enjoy it- or what I could hear over my children's noise! :)

    I am looking forward to hearing you behind the pulpit someday!

  2. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some how we could swap first Lady of SC for the governor? FrJack