Is it people’s or is it God’s? How do we distance ourselves from wanting the approval of our peers? Why is it so tempting to want other people’s approval? For most of us, we want to be liked, esteemed and well-thought of. But do we do that at the expense of pleasing the One who really matters?
“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)
God has a funny way of refining us at times. This seeking approval of peers has been a recurring question for me and one that seems I am seeing in other places. I know it’s God trying to wean me off of needing approval and focus instead on pleasing Him.
I know I cannot please all people or make all people like me. People will not like me simply because of the way I look, the way I talk, for my beliefs or for a myriad of other reasons. Has there ever been anyone on this earth that all people loved and adored? Clearly there has not. For heaven’s sake, Jesus the one and only sinless, blameless person who has ever lived is hated by thousands. If people don’t like him, how in the world, can I expect them to like me? I am sinful, prideful, selfish, inconsistent, full of flaws and no where near sinless or blameless.
A big part of wanting to be a people pleaser is pride. (Pride: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements; to be especially proud of a particular quality or skill.)
Steve Clay, MA, LPC makes a great point, “People-pleasing, the fear of man, self-esteem, the quest of acceptance and approval are ways of describing the phenomena connected to the root sin of pride. [Tim] Keller sees it as a problem of the ego which is empty, fragile, busy, and painful. We are continuously seeking a positive evaluation from other people which we believe will fill us, confirm us, and thus bring us satisfaction. Pride swells when fed with affirmation of personal worth. Though we are created in the image of God, and thereby of value in displaying Him, we are nonetheless unworthy of seeking our value apart from it. The quest to find personal value by my own efforts and the affirmation of other is an empty pursuit. God did not create us to find worth in the praise of others. If praise would satisfy, then popular actors and actresses would be of the happiest people.”
I need to be reminded of that, and that seeking people’s approval brings heartache, frustration, depression, anger and can even lead us to sin. But seeking God’s approval brings peace, harmony, affirmation by the only One who matters. And it brings beautiful rewards that nothing on earth can compare with.
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. ” (Rev 22:2)
Father, thank you that you are prompting me to consider whose approval I am seeking and that seeking people’s approval is fruitless, pointless, empty and ultimately not for our well being, but pleasing you brings much joy, fulfillment and purpose!