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. (Gal 1:10 ESV)
This amazing verse comes in the midst of Paul defending himself as an apostle, as one who has seen Jesus with his very eyes. But even more so, this verse is in the context of Paul retelling an event that took place between him and Peter, one of the original 12 disciples. Paul describes a occassion when Peter, the Rock, was acting hypocritical and two-faced toward the Gentile Christians when the Jewish Christians were in town (Gal 2:11-14). Paul saw this happening and choses to call Peter out in public, literally opposed him to his face (vs. 11).
It is obvious that Paul sought to please God over and above anything else. He was simply not afraid of another man, even someone as popular and influential as Peter. We see here you can either seek the approval of man or God. But not both. If you seek the approval of man, you cease to be a servant of Christ. (Gal 1:10)
In leadership, we all struggle to seek the approval of man. We feel obligated to please those in authority over us. Those with significant influence and power within our church or organization. I have been in situations where I felt it necessary to please a group of men like the church elders, or my school board members, or the parents on my youth council. Presently, I find I am seeking the approval of my Dean, our Vice President and the President.
But this verse gives me hope that in all truthfulness I only have to please God. My obligation is to please Him and Him alone. If God is pleased with me, then I should not fear any man. I should seek to please Him in all my ways and let the pleasing of others be removed from my to-do list.