The Seduction of Compromise

Compromise is a winsome suitor. She will tempt you with promises of peaceful agreement on all sides if only you are willing to lower your standards to meet the needs of the other side. It is a seductive ploy, tempting you to soften your position with a siren song of calm and a self-image of one who is not stubborn but willing to consider the ideas of others. The trouble that compromise brings though is that it never ends. Once you have compromised what you believe to be right, it will be expected from you again and again until one day you are no longer able to compromise any further, then what? Will you stand on your principles then?

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” For the pastoral leadership, compromise is death. The temptation comes to the pastor in the form of concerns about the size of one’s church or the retention of a congregation. Murmurs will begin about how other churches do things, or about how happy a family would be to stay if only the Sunday school did such and such, or worship will be limited to the same 15 songs because a musician that you ‘need’ will not learn any others… and so on and so on. The pastor will say, ‘I’m a servant of the people’ and he or she soon becomes a people pleaser.

The trouble is, people are rarely satisfied and will continue to demand that you compromise. One day, you’ll look up and decide that you are not going to compromise any longer, that you are going to stand on your principles and guide the church according to your original vision…often looking at suddenly empty seats where the family you changed ‘A’ for used to sit. And over there is a chair where so and so who you changed ‘B’ for used to sit and so it goes around the auditorium. You were afraid they wouldn’t stay if you stuck to your guns in the first place and it turns out they wouldn’t stay anyway because you were unwilling to make them more and more comfortable.

The work of God is not about making people comfortable, it is about making them uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with their sinful state, uncomfortable with their lack of concern for justice, uncomfortable with their lackadaisical relationship with the Father, uncomfortable period. God has given you, the shepherd a vision for where the sheep are to be led. There are no shortcuts on this path and the journey is hard. Don’t let one little wandering sheep pull the entire flock off of the path. Do what’s right from the beginning.

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