Three weeks ago I visited a nearby church service to encourage their pastor. He said many good things in his sermon, but one sentence has stood out in my mind these past three weeks. Pastor Bob Butler of Macedonia Baptist Church of Plainfield, Vermont, said “Hypocrites are never happy and they are impossible to satisfy.” Having been in the ministry for more than 20 years, I have had many opportunities to engage in efforts to make hypocrites happy. I do not recall any of them being very successful.
Hypocrites are not happy because they have an overly idealized view of the world. They want things to be perfect. But things are seldom perfect. People make mistakes. Plans fail. Politicians disappoint. Employers make bad decisions. Churches sometimes forget their mission. When things are not perfect, hypocrites respond by getting upset. And since things are seldom perfect, hypocrites are often upset. Instead of becoming upset, it would be far more productive if they rolled up their sleeves and tried to improve the situation. But that would require far more effort than just complaining about the situation.
One might think that if we just worked a little harder we might somehow create the perfect situation and then hypocrites would finally be happy. But as Pastor Bob has correctly noted, “hypocrites are impossible to satisfy.” The reason hypocrites are impossible to satisfy is because they have reserved to themselves the right to decide what perfection is. Though many situations may seem perfect (or close to it) to many people, their opinions do not matter to the hypocrite. The only opinion that matters to the hypocrite is his own. Therefore, he can declare a situation less than perfect, even when others have worked hard to achieve what appears to them to be a great situation.
We have to decide if we are going to spend all our time vainly trying to please hypocrites in fruitless efforts to create their false version of perfection. If we choose to spend all our time in that empty pursuit, we will have little time left to devote to the people and issues in our lives that really matter. As hard as it is, we must learn to ignore the endless whining of hypocrites. Will that upset hypocrites? Yes, but since they are always upset anyway, we must simply learn to live with their dissatisfaction.