“I’m looking to no man walking this earth for approval of what I’m doing.” — Shirley Chisholm
Approval. What is it about that word that makes one experience a wave of emotions.
If we get it, we are excited, nonchalant, happy, at peace, or even more so…relieved. If we don’t get it, we feel cheated or worthless or not enough or angry or discouraged or… just fed up!
I must admit that I have fallen into the trap of seeking man’s approval! It reared its ugly head just recently!
I remembered that I needed to do something for work so I logged onto my computer to do just that and decided to check an email I hadn’t reviewed the previous day. When I finished reading the document, I got angry. The sender had a title behind his name that I felt belonged to me.
I was livid. I tried to calm down, but instead, I became more and more infuriated. With that infuriation, came the many thoughts that raced through my head!
How dare THEY give him that title when I was the one that did all the work?
How dare THEY give him more responsibility when I just asked yesterday for more responsibility and was given the proverbial “you have too much on your plate already.”
Are THEY doing things behind my back?
Do THEY think I am not good enough?
And it happened in the span of 15 seconds!
I was ready to email and call everyone to talk about this injustice and tell them what THEY could do with the titles and the job.
I talked with my husband and thank God he calmed me down. He told me to write the email to get it off my chest, but don’t send it for an hour.
As I was sulking, I wondered why was this bothering me so much! Why was I so preoccupied with his titles, what he was doing, and what THEY were thinking? Why wasn’t I focusing on what I had, what I was doing and what GOD was thinking?
Why was I allowing myself to believe that my co-workers didn’t value what I brought to the table and were trying to move me out?
Yeah, I fell for the lies of the enemy. Again….
I was allowing a serious movie, with all kinds of plots and twists, to play in my head. I just needed some popcorn, a box of hot tamales, and an ice-cold strawberry lemonade to enjoy the show!
Yep! I fell in the trap again. I was seeking approval. As I pondered more deeply, I realized I was the one having a hard time finding value in what I brought to the table. Not anyone else!
I wanted someone to tell me that I was doing good. I wanted someone to tell me that what I did mattered and that it was necessary. I wanted their approval…and I wanted it often.
Craving human praise and approval starts to wear on you. It definitely makes you question your worth and your particular purpose if you don’t get it when you think you should. It distracts you! It takes you off course! It has you trying to please man instead of trying to please Christ.
As Galatians 1:10 says, if we seek to please man, we are not servants of Christ!
Oh the Christian road. So simple; yet so hard. We only have to please Christ, but that means crucifying our self and our desires! That means letting go of what we desire. For me, it means letting go of wanting a person’s approval.
Ouch! My toes are crushed.
If you are like me, we are not by ourselves. So many people in the bible craved human approval also. Saul, the King of the Israelites, appears to have craved approval and it was the final blow that cost him the throne because he disobeyed God.
CRAVING HUMAN APPROVAL CAN CAUSE YOU TO DISOBEY GOD AND IT WILL COST YOU MORE THAN THE APPROVAL IS WORTH!
I believe we are all wired to want approval. I mean if you are married with kids, you want your spouse and children to approve of you.
If you are an employee, you want your supervisor to approve of your work.
If you are an author, you want readers to approve of your writings.
So, yes we are wired. But when does it become toxic? When does it lead you down the wrong path? When does it cost too much?
I asked a few friends to give me their feedback on approval and when it becomes toxic.
First, approval becomes toxic when we become dependent on humans for our self-worth. As Danyelle S. says,
“The lack of approval shouldn’t cause you to spin into unhappiness or depression. We have to realize that God’s calling and path for our lives won’t always bring about applause from man.”
Second, approval becomes toxic when we are willing to sacrifice our morals for the approval. Laura S.
Third, approval becomes toxic when the approval becomes addicting. As Esther C. says,
“Validation of something you’ve done or something about you from someone else is a gift, but if you’re not secure in who you are as a child of God, it can easily become a drug. And like any addiction, it begins to cloud your judgement, your motivation becomes based on getting “the next fix,” and your identity becomes what people say about who you are, not what your Heavenly Father says. When your identity is based on mere human opinion and what it takes to please them, you are negating God’s truth and purpose for your life.”
Finally, approval becomes toxic when human approval is more important than what God says about you. As Scotia M. says,
“I think it is generous and Jesus-like to bless someone and to bring them pleasure. But the moment that we do it for the self pleasure of approval, we have crossed in to dangerous and sinful territory. To seek man’s approval implies that God’s approval isn’t big enough or good enough to fill our need and that it needs the additional approval of man in order to satisfy. At its root, this mindset lies on God and makes man an idol. Though this particular sin is common, it is also dangerous and egregious and as Gal. 1:10 indicates, we cannot simultaneously be a servant of Christ while indulging in it. It is only when we have become fully satisfied with being approved by God, which is a finished work because of the blood of Jesus, that we are truly free to bless another person with a pure heart. I believe that to seek man’s approval is more a display of a lack of confidence. It is a lack of faith and evidence of some selfishness. Jesus’ love is more than enough! It fills to overflowing and satisfies completely!”
An idol? Lack of confidence? Addiction? Lying on God?
Sitting still revealed to me that at the root of craving human approval is worry and anxiety. God tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 that we should not worry about anything. The verses mention food and clothing, but I bet it means EVERYTHING about your life.
What can we do to change our focus and desire to God?
First, cater to an audience of one… God. When we seek to please only Him, the beautiful thing is that everything else we have been or are worried about will be taken care of by the one who approved of us before we were even born. Be satisfied with God’s approval. In the end, his approval of us is all that really matters.
Second, keep your mind focused on the fact that God already approves of you–just as you are. You are his masterpiece. When he created you, He said, “[You] are good!” Find peace in that truth because God does not lie and He doesn’t make mistakes!
Last, pick a Scripture that reminds you who God says you are. Write it down. Make it personal. Read and memorize it every day for as long as it takes to sink into your cerebral cortex and your soul!
Below are a few I personalized; start with these! Use whichever version of the Bible you like. Below is a mix of NLT, ESV, and Amplified.
“I am a vessel of honor, sanctified, and fit for the Master’s use.” —2 Timothy 2:21
“I am strong and very courageous.” —Joshua 1:7
“I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. I proclaim the praises of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.” —1 Peter 2:9
The wealth of the sinner is laid up for me. It finds its way into my hands.” —Proverbs 13:22
“I honor the Lord with my substance and with the firstfruits of all my increase. My barns are filled with plenty and my presses burst out with new wine.” —Proverbs 3:9-10
“I develop and attain oneness in faith with the believers. I am perfect and complete in Christ.” —Ephesians 4:13
“I have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so I will walk in him, I am rooted and built up in him and I am established in the faith.” — Colossians 2:6-7
“I give my burdens to the LORD, and He will take care of me. He will not permit me, the godly, to slip and fall.” Psalms 55:22
“I will remain in God and He will remain in me. As a result, I will produce much fruit.” John 15:5
“I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Psalms 16:8
If you practice the above daily, consistently, and persistently, you will be well on your way to overcoming the approval addiction!
Spice Up Your Soul!