I am old! To some degree I’m still living in the 1950’s when I was in high school. I grew up on Motown Music, Presley, the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, etc. 

I was also weaned on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” which was one of those very family oriented TV shoes. Ozzie and Harriet had two sons, David and Ricky (Ricky on the right).

No one heard  much heard of David after the show ended,  but plenty of people heard of Ricky Nelson. He became one of those teen idol sensations with numbers of his songs hitting the top of the charts. 

One that he recorded in 1972 (he unfortunately died in a plane accident in 1985 at just 45) was titled “Garden Party.” I really like most of the words and the music.

It was a song which dealt with the frustration of  trying to be himself by singing what he wanted when he wanted, not just what everyone wanted to hear.

Here is the refrain from the song:

But it’s all right now

I learned my lesson well

You see, you can’t please everyone

So you got to please yourself

I am a life-long learner, trying to learn everything and anything I can from books,  music, movies and TV shows. I’ve been listening to “Garden Party” over the last several weeks. Let me respond to the refrain a bit.

I agree with the first part.

You can’t please everyone.

I have come to understand more and more that it’s an exercise in futility to try to please everyone. I’m still learning that lesson well. It’s an ongoing struggle for me as I like to be liked and respected so I’m tempted to do or say things to insure that is the case. 

 One of my favorite quotes is:

“If your goal in life is to keep everybody happy, don’t be a leader, sell ice cream.” ~ Eric Geiger  

Isn’t that the truth? 

A  comedian from back in the day put it this way:

“I don’t know what the secret to success is but I do know what the secret to failure is that’s trying to keep everybody happy.”

As a leader, do you struggle with this as I do?

Matthew’s 22:16 (The Message) reads as follows: 

“Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your Students.” 

This was a comment made by a Pharisee to Jesus. Jesus was about as far as you can get from trying to keep everybody happy with what he said and did. He was as politically incorrect in his day as one could be. He got his share of “Hate Mail.”

Now to the second part of the refrain from “Garden Party.”

“So you got to please yourself”

I couldn’t disagree more. 

The antidote to not centering your life around pleasing others is not to instead please yourself, but to please the Lord. 

Nothing could be more polar opposite to the essence of the Christian life or the essence of Christian leadership than pleasing yourself. 

When I sing along to Ricky’s song, I sing so you got to please the Lord, instead of you got to please yourself. 

We should not fall into the trap of pleasing others or ourselves.  For leaders this may all be one of the major problems we will continue to deal with. 

Paul makes it abundantly clear that our number one priority is pleasing Him:

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:9 ESV

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

~ Colossians 1:10 ESV

“For am I now seeking the approval of men, 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.”

~ Galatians 1:10 ESV