Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2003. Empty Promises is Pete’s much anticipated second book. Pete earned his Bachelors degree in Communications from Western Kentucky University and attended seminary at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. He enjoys spending time with Brandi and their 3 boys, hunting, gardening and football.
Here’s a confession. Criticism often crushes me.
Why? Because I’m tempted to live for the approval of others instead of trusting Christ.
Following Christ with all your heart is tough. Sometimes God calls you…
to take risks
to stand up against things
to go against the flow
to do something remarkable.
But when you live for the approval of others you limit your life to following the herd. You see, most people feel safest when they’re in the middle of the herd. What happens when you break off to follow a God prompt, to take a risk, is the herd will criticize you until you fall back with the rest of the crowd. The approval addict is destined for a life of mediocrity because they always have to follow the herd.
I’m not a fan of criticism. I honestly think it’s just a cowardly form of self praise but it’s part of life. We’re surrounded by a lot of hurt people.
So we all have an important decision to make. Are we going to allow the voices of criticism to define us or the voice of the one who gave His very Son for our salvation.
Today I want you to live authentically. And by that I mean, the practice of letting go of who you think you should be in order to embrace who God’s calling you to be.
Listen, choosing to be “real” over being “liked” will not be the safest thing you do today, but it might be the most God honoring and rewarding.
Do you know why so few people live like this? It takes tremendous courage. You are constantly bombarded by a culture (sometimes even in the church) that is doing its best, day and night, to make you anybody but yourself. That’s why authenticity is the cry of all but the game of few. Letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are in Christ is one of the most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight.
It takes courage to be authentic because it takes courage to admit you’re not perfect.
It takes courage to be real about your weaknesses, knowing you will not live up to people’s expectations of who they think you should be.
It takes courage to break from the herd.
It takes courage to say “I love you” first.
It takes courage to try something when you don’t know if you’ll be successful at it.
It takes courage to create art.
It takes courage to ask for help.
Giveaway: Answer this question to enter to win one of two copies of Empty Promises.
Do you ever struggle with looking to the approval of others to give you what only God can give you?
You can find Pete on his Blog here, along with other Empty Promises Resources.
Purchase your copy here.
Leave a Comment
Amy Hunt says
Recently I’ve noticed how tense and nervous I feel when I speak up for what I believe is more right for my family or me. The other day I limited my son’s athletic involvement to his lacrosse game and told him we would be missing late night hockey practice. I told the coach and he seemed to understand. As it turned out, the opposing lacrosse team was actually the hockey coach’s son’s team and about half a dozen members of the summer hockey team…and they all were going to practice. I felt (and still sort of worry) that we didn’t look as dedicated. But we are…we’re dedicated to taking care of our bodies and getting rest and making good choices for us. Standing up for what I believe is right takes courage and worrying that I’m not pleasing someone else is definitely wasted attention. It’s worship to just be bold in ways that are necessary for us. I appreciate this reminder today and pray God will lead me to feel more comfortable with my courage.
Pete Wilson says
I’ll join you in that prayer Amy.
Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) says
I struggled with this big time a few years back. I was seeking approval from the world rather than the Lord. I was deeply confused and involved in the self harming world of anorexia. Thankfully I am now focused on the Lord and his approval as opposed to societies standards of worth.
Kathy in IN says
When I post a status update on Facebook, I check back frequently to check for “likes” and comments.
Pete Wilson says
Me too Kathy. We’re approval addicts. 🙂
I’ve struggled for most of my life with this issue. Wanting to be validated by others, to be told it’s alright to be the way I am. I’m learning more and more to turn to God and seek his approval but I still have a long way to go.
Yes, all the time.
I’ve noticed it several times recently in sticking to what boundaries my husband and I have set for our family. We were with friends at their house last weekend and the husband there had rented a movie for the kids. I asked him about it and he said, “I just heard it was a good family movie.” It was actually one I had wanted to see, but one I hadn’t considered would entertain or be appropriate for my kids. So I looked it up on Plugged In, where he mentioned some cursing that I was surprised was allowed in a PG movie. I told my friend that my kids couldn’t watch it, and he seemed disappointed. I didn’t like I disappointed him, but I knew in my heart that choosing not to watch something I was uncomfortable with my 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son seeing was the right thing in the long run. I face similar moments often, sometimes with the disappointment showing in my daughter’s face, but I trust that listening to God will bring us all out gracefully on the other side of each decision.
Pete Wilson says
Wow! So tough but way to stick to your convictions.
I’ve always looked to be people for approval. Most times the struggle is to stop thinking I know how people feel about me. In fact, I’m starting to realize people are a lot less concerned with me than I think they are.
I do look to others for approval. Daily I have to remind myself that pleasing God is truly important thing I must do. Your ‘middle of the herd’ illustration makes so much sense!
Oh, absolutely. I was just talking with my pastor about my fear of public speaking. Underlying that fear, of course, are questions like “Will they like me?” and “What if I make a mistake and they laugh at me?” My pastor, a wise man, reminded me that it would be for His glory. That certainly gave me a different perspective!
Pete Wilson says
Debbie Sneddon says
Being abused in every way possible as a child & teenager, I was always looking for any sign of disapproval because I knew if they were displeased what was coming so it so hard to break this stronghold even as you get older. I don’t like criticism, or disapproval or conflict, it can easily throw me right back into those fears & feelings I had as a child but GOD is delivering me from the need for acceptance or approval because through His Son Jesus I have His approval, it is a struggle still, I admit that but with Jesus I now know where to run to when those fears & feelings start in. Great blog, so honest and i truly appreciate that.
This is an area I have always struggled with! God is showing me so much about the approval of others compared to His unfailing love. I am a “Martha” by nature and God has shown me this summer with my kids that I often let Satan use my busyness to keep me away from what is most important :time at His feet and time with my family. Many of the things I was busy doing were good things, children’s ministry, outreach, etc. and I was so afraid to say I couldn’t do it all because of approval of others that I couldn’t break the cycle. God gave me the words yesterday to say no to a few things in my life so I can focus more on Him and my family so my cup is full from Him so I can be more effective in the areas He does call me to and not filled by the approval of others. I woke up this morning worrying about letting people down but after reading this it has reassured me that I did what I know in my heart God called me to do. Thanks for this blog post.
Just yesterday, I had to speak a pretty hard truth to someone very close to me. It actually didn’t feel as good as I hoped to feel afterward. Actually, I still feel weird about it, not because what I did and said was what I know was right in the eyes of the Lord, but because what she was engaging in (and very many Christian women are engaging in right now and trying to justify — you may be able to guess since a very popular book series has been circulating) didn’t really seem to bother her until I spoke with her. I tried not to be preachy and judgmental about it and she thanked me for that. And I still don’t know if it really bothers her like it does me. I guess that’s not my problem to deal with, but I felt God leading me to speak that truth to her anyway. She said there were no hard feelings, but it still feels like there will be a lot of awkward between us now. My husband did praise me and tell me I did what was right, and his approval and respect matter more to me than anyone else, other than God. So, there’s that.
Megan Kroeger says
This was so encouraging to read. I’ve just made the really difficult decision to step out of my the ministry I have been a part of for 2 years in South Africa. I feel really strongly that God is asking me if I love him enough to serve Him with the same passion in America. It’s been a difficult process and journey but I know I have made the right decision. The most difficult part has been other people’s response of seeing it as quitting or giving up my calling among other things. It’s hard not to take on this criticism as truth. It’s been difficult to admit that I’m not in a place to be in ministry in South Africa and that God is asking me to move away from it but I’m learning to embrace my weaknesses as a mean to showcase His strength. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement though, it was beautiful and needed as I continue to struggle with other people not approving or supporting my decision.
Teri Dingler says
Absolutely! As I lose weight I always worry how others perceive me, how I look, and how I look in what I wear. I am reading “Made to Crave” and am not struggling as much but starting to crave what is most important. But there are always human failures to work on!
Yes! It can be hard for me and is something that God has been working on me over. I (think) I am better than I was a year ago and I hope that next year I’ll have even more courage with how I live my life for Him than I do today.
Tara C. says
Great post! I needed this today. Thanks.
Not only do I struggle with it, but it has also stopped me from escaping my comfort zone on occasion! It’s been on my daily prayer list for years. and I’m proof prayer works because I have had days I’ve been able to break free!
“choosing real over being liked”….that really hits home to me. I as well can definitely relate to desiring the approval of others over approval from God. Just last night, is a perfect example. I lead a support group for women whose husband’s have betrayed them. A member emailed me minutes before the group started, saying she wasn’t coming and that the group wasn’t a right “fit” for her. I immediately started replaying scenarios, wondering if I had done something wrong. I took it personal. But the reality is, God was very clear in calling me to do this (facilitate the support group), and this is a reminder that I must rest in where God has placed me and what He has called me to do…versus questioning and wondering why someone doesn’t possibly approve of me. (that isn’t to say, I am certainly open to her feedback and have asked for that…) Today, I choose to be real versus being liked.
I am scared to be honest, especially if I know people might get mad or disagree. I am afraid they will not like me. But when I don’t, I am the one that gets hurt or gets mad and I become critical of others. It hurts when they criticize me back for the truth, so what is worse standing for truth and getting criticize and maybe causing them to see the truth. Or let them walk all over me and I begin to criticize. I need to seek only God’s approval and if he leads me to share with someone that may hurt- but share in a loving way, I need to follow God. Have His approval and not mans. It is hard
I seek approval from family including my inlaws and honestly only God’s approval should matter, not the neighbors, friends, family or anyone else but GOD.
This has been a life long struggle – – I don’t want to dissapoint, I want everyone to be happy, I don’t want to look/sound like a fool, and I also check back constantly for those Facebook “likes”. That’s a hard way to live. Too hard to keep doing. It looks scarier, but I suspect it’s really easier to do what Jesus wants me to do 🙂
I struggle with seeking praise from others on a daily basis. I often feel as though I don’t have much worth in this world if others don’t approve of who I am. Though I am tempted to change who I really am to fit the molds of who other people think I should be, I am desperately trying to live for an audience of One…The One! I know my true worth can only be found in Jesus because He loves me and sees me as no one else can or ever will.
Maggie Hughes says
This is definitely something that God has been working on with me lately. I noticed it a fe weeks ago. I constantly wait for people tell me they like something I am doing or I won’t even try something until I run it past someone to see how they react and I felt like God has been saying to me “are you doing this for them? or for me? because if its for me, my opinion is the only one that matters.” which is my intention, I want to do things for God’s glory and not my own, but I still catch myself basing my happiness on what others think of me. Recently God told me to delete my Facebook page. I was basing my happiness on what others said or did, on facebook!!! Did they “like” my status? Did they respond tomy comments? or my pictures? I was truly living for the attention of my “friends” rather than pleasing God. This is a hard process, my toes get crunched daily, but I am thankful that God takes the time to fix me 😉
Elizabeth Frazier says
This is my DAILY struggle. I get so discouraged that I can’t get over it. Thanks for the post…you are so right.
beth willis miller says
Pete, I was listening to Carmen Brown on the JoyFM radio station here in central Florida the other day, and she asked that we pray for you and your church regarding some of the challenges you are facing…just wanted you to know that I am praying for you all, and I wanted to share this God-moment with you…the other day, I was driving to work and the Brandon Heath song, “The Light In Me” came on the radio…I’m singing along with Brandon and then suddenly, as if a voice was whispering in my heart, every time I sang the words of the song…”The Light”…what I heard in my spirit sounded like…”De Light”…so I sang along with these new lyrics… “You put De Light in me”… “You put DeLight in me”… Oh, yes, of course, “YOU put DELIGHT in me!” What a joy! What a revelation! God himself put DELIGHT in me…for several years, I have been inspired by the Scripture Psalm 37:4…“Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I even wrote a blog post about it a few years ago… http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com/2010/10/delight-yourself-in-lord.html Now, I will never hear “The Light In Me” or read Psalm 37:4 again that I am not reminded of that moment, the ah-ha awareness of His Presence in my car with me as I drove to work and sang and listened to Him speak…It is not me who has to “work up” delight in the Lord, HE has already put DELIGHT in me 🙂
Boy do I …. After reading this… it’s like I’m answering yes to everyone statement, yes it takes courage and I don’t have much so that’s why I am always feeling inadequate.. Learning to please GOD and not man is hard to do when you see so many others appear to be able to handle it all, do it all and almost effortlessly.. You feel so useless… like an under-achiever…. but GOD only requires that we do our best and He will take care of the rest…
Mary M says
I must confess that I have suffered from a lifetime addiction to people-pleasing. God is gradually working on me to bring me out of the addiction, but I still too often seek validation from other people rather than trusting God’s love and validation. I have been devastated by criticism, rejection and not measuring up to man’s standards instead of turning to God for approval. I am realizing how unhealthy that addiction is, and am continually seeking His help to rid myself of it.
Rebekah Shaver says
Yes. Especially with my Authorities. I want my Hubby, Pastor & his wife, etc. to be pleased with me. I am only complete in Christ. HE fulfills me, not others view of me.
I had been a complete fraud for so many years. I had lost myself while being what everyone else wanted me to be. I was so miserable until Jesus came into my life. I had no boundaries and was everyones doormat. No more. I found that I had to love me enough to effectively love others. It has not been easy, but my journey has become better.
Renee Wilson-Wicker says
Today’s (in)courage really speaks to me! I find there are portions of my life that are easy for me to break from the herd and others that find me happily plodding along in the middle of the herd. When it deals with portions of my professional life, I tend to do what I know is best (quite often, if not always, influenced from above) – pushing the boundaries, taking risks, helping my student achieve what they never thought they could. Personally, this is a different story. Thank you for articulating what I needed to hear, especially as my school year begins in another two weeks!
Yes, I seek recognition and approval from my family, friends and employer. It is a very exhausting way to live.
Too often I try to please family and friends when making decisions. I need to focus on God and what he calls me to do, not what other people think I should do!
Niki Blake says
I am SUCH a people-pleaser but I am working on it. 🙂 I am a social-butterfly and love to join the crowd as well. Working on this and following the Spirit’s leading……thanks for a wonderful post. 🙂
Beth Williams says
Sometimes I struggle. Can’t handle criticism very well & easily fall into the negative trap of listening to the Evil one.
One area I struggle in is public speaking. I do sign language to music for special music in front of the church and each time I get nervous–don’t want to make any mistakes.
Mostly I try to be who God made me and not worry about other’s opinions.
Yes! This is something God has been working on in me for the past couple of years.
Dumped my blog and Facebook account after clearly feeling God lead me to do so.
I struggled with the decision to obey Him because I did not want to give up approval/affirmation from others. What I felt Him say to me over and over was “You need to sit at my feet awhile. I have things you need to hear.” And ever since the day I submitted, He has proved Himself over and over again as my most Faithful Friend. He has shown me that He alone can meet all my needs.
But…there are days where I feel like a “freak” for not being on Facebook when it seems everyone else is. Friends don’t seem to understand why God would have me get off of it and I get caught up in worrying what they think of me instead of JOYFULLY obeying. I need to keep my eyes on HIM. Your post helped. I’m printing it out and putting it in my journal.
As I get older it’s getting a little easier to not care so much about the opinions of others. I wear what is comfortable, not necessarily what is the cutest or most in style. But, I am just like you, I want people to like me, so I do think about what I say and do and sometimes over analyze things later.
I struggle with this. I want to be the person that I know God wants me to be…but I’m surrounded by things and by people and affect the way I think, the way I act. It’s so hard to not “care” what others think. It’s so hard not to listen for the snicker you think you’ll hear…and sometimes do…when you say you are going to church or you can’t attend something because you are going to church or you have something planned that involves your church. It’s hard. I think friendships are important…but when your friends don’t value or view God in the same sense that you do…you end up making a choice. Whether it be intentional or not. I love my Lord…but the “old, real me” still looks for the approval of my friends so often. So often that I get anxiety over worrying if they will like me, if I said something wrong this time, or just wanting so bad to be included, to be loved. And then I read something like this and it hits the nail on the head…thank you
Jan Loyd says
Yes, I’ve struggled with approval, even as a 65 year old grandma (“Babci” as I’m called..Polish for g’ma) of 4 adorable young grandsons! I’ve struggled getting and keeping the approval of my adult children and in-law children. But the Lord has been setting me free of needing that to be OK…the letter to the Colossians has been my constant meditation! As Tullian Tchividgian says, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything!”
Thank you, dear brother for your message.
Jessica Budd says
Every single day…..I find that other’s approval of me dictates my mood and attitude.
I think the fear of criticism stems from wanting to be liked, wanting to be a people pleaser. That is me…I can so relate. Criticism has the ability to immobilize me. I so appreciate you pointing out that what Christ thinks of us is the only thing that truly matters, but sometimes amongst the criticism it can be so dang hard to remember.
Oh, yes, I do! I struggle with the boyfriend/husband thing. I think I need a man in my life to make me feel pretty and special and loved. I’m trying to retrain myself to think that all I need is God to make me feel that way! He thinks I’m pretty and special and he loves me!
Grace KP says
Oh, yes, too often! God is gracious enough to open my eyes to see what really matters through His Word and timely reminders like this. He is good!
I have struggled for a very long time with “needing” people’s approval to believe that what I’ve done is good, excellent, beautiful. I’ve always been an A student, and I think it hit me the hardest the first year that I was married: no one was grading me on my housekeeping and decorating skills. No one was grading my cooking or baking, and no one really cared what clothes I put on my body. I had to learn to accept that God’s approval – not the approval of others – is the only goal worth striving for! I still mess up, and it’s hard to turn from needing other people’s affirmation, but I know the truth. I’m loved and accepted for who I am, not for what I do (or forget to do).
Lauren S. says
Yes, and i think it’s the approval of my parents that I still continue to struggle with the most. I know I shouldn’t but I just can’t help seeking it. 🙁
Charise Christianson says
I have struggled with this all my life in so many ways I could write a novel. I have found that the more I grow and am rooted in the love of God, the more than I am freed up to be authentic without fear and grow into the woman He made me to be. Thank you for this post.
What a great reminder! Can’t wait to read Pete’s new book.
Our family has chosen to live a simpler life so we can help meet more needs of those suffering in our world. We attend a very wealthy church and I often worry what my church friends are thinking about the old car I drive, the clothes I wear, the style of our home. I doubt if any of these great people would ever think differently about me, but still I battle that need for approval from others.
Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions says
The approval addict is destined for a life of mediocrity because they always have to follow the herd. = amazing.
I am definitley going against the grain right now and following the Lord’s path against my parent’s “preferences.”
I look (futilely) to family for approval & love, where it cannot be found. I know that the only real approval that I need is God’s – all else will follow.
Kristy Lynn says
Yes, yes, and yes!! I have definitely struggled with wanted others approval, forgetting that the only approval I need is God’s and that I already have that! I got into an emotionally, verbally and spiritually abusive marriage because I wanted so desperately to please my husband above all else. I am in counseling now with a wonderful woman of God who is helping me learn that I am a woman of purpose who God has created wonderfully and fearfully, and that I only have to look to please God in all that I do!!
Traci Best says
I struggle with this very issue every day. Mostly I feel judged by my family. I look forward to getting a peek at this book!
This has always been a struggle for me. As I get older, I strive to look less and less for the approval of others, but most of the time I find myself falling into that trap
Carrie K says
its definitely making me ashamed to admit that i almost ALWAYS look for the approval of man before the approval of God
Guilty! I’ve tried to please husband, children, pastor, even members of the class I teach at church. However, I’ve learned a valuable lesson, ultimately, they’ll find something else they’re not happy about; therefore I’m determined to do what God has told me to do whether they are happy about it or not.
Oh my goodness this past year has been a difficult and tedious process of God revealing and separating me from my approval addiction. The family on my side has been the most difficult to break free from and I am bursting with joy today with God about this new found freedom! When you wrote, “the herd will criticize you until you fall back with the rest of the crowd”, I resonated big time. My eyes have been opened by my sweet Jesus and your words were a timely encouragement to me today. Thank you!
YES!! would love to read this.
I used to be more this way than I am now, but I’m getting older… or perhaps growing wiser (at least I hope so), and the things people think of me now don’t hurt or disappoint or intimidate me so much anymore. When I find myself falling back into that pattern, I have to take it straight to the Lord. I have to apologize to Him first, then ask for clarity, and then thank Him for loving me warts & all. In the end He is the Only one any of us really have to answer to.
I have struggled with being a people pleaser, throughout my whole life! God has had to constantly remind me that I am to seek to please Him, and Him alone. I am thankful for His Grace, Mercy, and Patience towards me!
I am always amazed at how God will speak to me in many different ways. I have never desired to be a stand-out. I just want to blend. Give me a job of service to do, even if that is telling me to clean the toilets, but, please, don’t ask me to lead the charge.. I didn’t even want to have a wedding because everyone’s eyes would be on me. In the last year God has been gently pushing me in to a leadership position at church. When my head screamed “no, they will judge you!”, my heart told me to follow what God wanted me to do. I remember the moment that I told the Lord that I would not turn down the position because of fear. Fear of what? People and their criticism , their judgement. Though I am still incredibly vulnerable to the eye of those around me, it is a daily laying down to the Lord – I must do! I have followed the Lord in an area that I never dreamed possible for me. We speak on this issue daily. He is so good to lovingly guide me and teach me His way. Would love to win the book. Thank you for sharing your heart.
Tracey H. says
Wow, what perfect timing was your message today!! My 14 year old son and I just read this and it was much needed in this house! He was criticized today for the 1st time at football by a teammate and it hurt him deeply. We spent an hour talking through they why would he say that, do that, treat me like that and then this message came across!! What a relief to read it with each other!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, you have no idea how much you helped our family today and shed light on criticism!! Life is tough and I’m afraid it is easier to blend than stand out or up for the right thing!
Becky M says
I struggle with wanting others approval — and the hardest place for me is Church. “They are supposed to love me” is what I often think — aren’t they Christians? God does love me and He reminds me to love others and then just let it go . . . between Him and me we can love others.
Judy R says
I don’t think I seek approval as much now as I did in my early 20’s and 30’s. I am 43. Although, I do tend to feel most comfortable in the “herd”, I don’t have a problem turning away from or voicing my opinion, when I know the “herd” is not going in a Godly way.
Lee Ann L. says
Always. I always struggle with wanting other people’s approval. it wasn’t until recently, until the news of my Dad’s terminal illness and subsequent passing that I challenged that mentality internally. I was just plain worn out and tired of trying to fit what I thought others wanted me to be. They can’t give me what I need — only God can. I’m still struggling; but, every day is easier.
Malory H says
Sadly, yes. Yes, I have/am.
The only person I should please is the Lord. This fact makes life much more enjoyable and I am not trapped by “people pleasing” efforts that bring stress. It is an ongoing process to seek approval from the Lord and not from people . I often find myself striving to make a friend approve of my actions but the end result is frustration. The Lord is the only source of joy and peace. Daily I pray that the Lord would guide me and keep me walking in the spirit in order to please Him in all I do and say.
Your point of seeking God’s approval over man’s is absolutely right on. So many bad decisions have been made when people were trying to “fit in” rather than stand strong. Your comments on criticism were a little surprising to me, though. I’m actually a big fan of constructive criticsm because it’s a great opportunity for me to grow.
I do this in my business ALL the time. I think if I send out a newsletter and customers don’t rush to beat down my door and buy stuff that I must be useless at what I do. I need to remember why I am in the business that I am in, because I believe in it, I love it and I really feel like I am improving children’s live with my products.
Diane Bailey says
So men struggle withTOPOO (The Opinion Of Others)? Frequently I can fake my way through and state my opinion, the before I make it home I reevaluating all that I said and all that “they” said. The there are days that I am clear minded and don’t give it a second thought.
It is a day by day learning to, trust with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding (PV 3:5) And, may I add, put too much stock in what others think.
Sherri D says
Do everyday even with my sisters in Christ I feel that way. I know I shouldnt feel this way. I need to be Stronger.
Yes, the herd. Find myself wishing for a “herd” sometimes, but you’re right. Thanks for the reminder.
Karen H. says
Sadly, yes. Not as much as I used to, but I’m still surprised at age 44 that I still struggle with this.
Oh, do I ever look for acceptance in this world? And criticism? Crushes my spirit. One of my biggest struggles.
This has been a constant struggle for me.
I have struggled with this in the workplace so much lately and am going through such a shift in my priorities because of the emptiness that seeking approval brings…
Angel S. says
I sure do. Our oldest is leaving for college and we literally had this talk two days ago. Perfect timing!
Anne Alexander says
Yes, I struggle daily with a focus on pleasing people (or myself with perfectionism) versus pleasing God. As I wrestle inwardly, my inner and (sometimes, as I ride my motorscooter or clean at home) outer dialogue gets downright violent, until I affirm God’s presence, greatness, goodness and love, and that every plan of His is good, acceptable & perfect! Stubborn mule-headed old man doesn’t die easy, and keeps prying the lid off the coffin!
This is a daily struggle for me. Who doesn’t want to at least be liked. I grew up in a home that gave conditional love. My parents never knew the unconditional love of Christ, so how could they share it? Learning God’s approval has already been given is a focus in my walk wax day. It is easy to get caught up in trying to earn His approval with our performance. Even though He tells us in His word that faith is what pleases Him.
A Work in Progress says
So many of these comments reflect how I feel. Seeking approval of others who only know how to give “conditional” love, verses accepting that God loves me unconditionally. Struggling with accepting the unconditional love shown by some of my friends, who really know me. Constantly feeling as though I have to make up for past mistakes to please Him, or Do more, Be more etc… to gain His approval or the approval of others. I don’t feel like I can really be Myself, because I may offend someone or they may not like me. Its silly, but its a daily battle. Too bad its not black and white… I am often “confused” about who I am pleasing. And when I don’t please people, I wonder if I am really pleasing God? Even the slightest criticism can crush me. But I am so thankful God is not finished with me yet. And He is teaching my daily to be who He created me to be. I don’t have to be liked, or accepted by people.
I place a lot of value on what others think of me before thinking about what God would think of me. It is something I struggle with on a daily basis and have a hard time with when there are so many influences in my daily life that aren’t Christ centered. I look to different standards and struggle with comparisons, especially during the school year. This is definitely an area I need to spend more time praying about and looking to God for guidance instead of the things of this world. Thank you for opening my eye to an area that desperately needs my attention.
I was definitively a people pleasing approval seeking woman until last year when the absolute worst thing that could happen to me, happened. And despite my thoughts that I wouldn’t make it, couldn’t survive it, I promised that daily I would seek to follow Him. And that the affirmations I was seeking from “others” (family, friends, coworkers, etc.) would no longer dictate my life, only HIS affirmation would count and matter.
It’s been a challenging 14 months. I still have days when crawling up under a rock is preferable to facing the things Christ is showing me that I need to change. Realizing that a lot of what I did most of my adult life came from a place of emotional emptiness due to extreme hurts and that only God could heal those places has been freeing to say the least. Two bible studies in particular (Search for Significance and Boundaries) have helped me begin to set up those boundaries to protect myself while still allowing me to grow into the person Christ wants me to be.
Not easy. But my prayer, while simple, has been the same – lead, guide and direct me according to YOUR will, not mine or anyone else’s.
I have absolutely been plagued with seeking the approval of others. And honestly, even at church I find myself seeking the approval of others, including pastors and staff. Recently I was confronted that my job at the church may not be my calling, in someone else’s eyes. That was devastating! But, God, in His greatness, taught me a lesson. He taught me that as long as I have done everything that He asks of me, that is what matters. That is ALL that matters. And that’s hard to swallow when you are confronted daily with this cloud of doubt following you everywhere. But God knows I need reminders…frequently…and so constantly I am redirecting my eyes to Him. Come judgement day, my ONLY Judge and Jury is God Almighty!
yes i do sometimes. i show people my love and at times “i’m not to their approval”. i always do a heart check to make sure i’m rendering my heart with right motives. if i am, and they still won’t allow me “in” and they make preassumptions without getting to know me, then it’s their problem and their own insecurities. often times, it’s the jesus in me that they are rejecting, not me. xoxo
I do struggle with this. A lot! My primary love language is words of affirmation and I don’t cope well without praise, without recognition, without affirming words. It’s why I MUST blog, it’s why I MUST have a social media presence (how bad is it that I need affirmation from strangers on twitter?), it’s why I need constant reassurance from my husband and my entire extended family. It’s why I am constantly seeking approval from people who (in the grander scheme of things) really don’t matter. I quite literally feel unloved when I don’t get this and on those days when God is silent….gosh, it has taken me a long, long, long time to be able to cope with that. I would love to read that book.
I definitely struggle with this. Even when people offer me constructive criticism (i.e., proofreading essays), I often feel serious self-doubt and defensive in response, which is completely ridiculous. Especially because I’d like to be open to Godly criticism about my character.
Yes, I struggle with wanting approval from others. I think society conditions us this way. The older I get, though, the less I care about other people’s approval and the more I want God’s approval. I have found other people’s approval doesn’t satisfy in the long run. This doesn’t mean I don’t want other people’s approval and support, but I try to not want it more than or in place of God’s approval.
I can’t make people like me, and the more I try, the more power and control I am giving them over me. Plus, it means I can’t be the real me. There is a lot of talk about being authentic and real, but I find that is impossible if I am living, acting, doing what I think will gain me other people’s approval. God gave himself for the real me and so I strive, not always successfully, to “show myself approved” by God.
“Jesus knows me, this I love.”
I am learning to be free, and man does it feel good. Not allowing others to dictate the way we act, rather God, is a much better way to live.
I think we humans have probably always sought acceptance from others; it is probably due to our search for love; we think to be “accepted” is to be “loved.” When we are loved we then feel powerful and we seem to also have a great weakness for power. I guess since the Fall we have never understood that the love and the power that would make us completely happy comes from God. I try to give us all a short-term pass on our misunderstanding until we come to an age of enlightenment…for some in their teens, for others it can be all kinds of more advanced ages. But I think we form a habit of looking in the wrong places for love and acceptance because of our dependency, first, on our parents, and then on others close to us, for our survival in the early years.
Following the herd is so interesting these days when we are in a culture that prods individuality….seemingly. Our language since the 60’s is all about self….self-realization, self-awakening, self-identity, rugged individualism and on and on. We are so preoccupied with ourselves and yet this preoccupation is just another dictate from the herd. If you admit you are a follower not a leader, that you like the status quo, that you embrace some group ideology you are frowned upon…… its deception! Being unique is not really acceptable but you need to sound as if it is. Being in the herd is not acceptable, you must sound as if you are a unicorn…its all deception or as the Old Testament says, “its all vanity!”
Within reason a civilized society has to have cultural norms that help prevent chaos. Thats not really a herd mentality in its most negative sense but there is a survival benefit in “going along.” But we also need those who stand out from the rest. I think I’m a big believer in balance and I think humans have a major flaw in always letting the pedulum about anything, swing from one extreme to another. God created us as a being with balance: we have both a mind, and we have emotions.
Another way in which we ignore balance is in the way we inflate the very meaning of our words. When we use the words compromise, tolerance, submit, loyalty, (on and on with examples) how much have these words changed in what they evoke from people today as compared with the 1940’s or 50’s. We load words with all kinds of extremes.
Anyway, many people are afraid to loose control, to submit to another, to let another define who they are. Of course they don’t realize that this is exactly what they do in society in so many ways. Today, if you are part of the self-proclaimed intelligencia you certainly don’t want to submit to something unseen, and something unproven. God falls into this category. As long as the world holds up the sanctity of the all-wonderful, all-powerful “me”, people will not search for God’s plans for them
In my humble opinion!
I have struggled for years to find the approval that I so desperately needed from my husband’s family and friends. My husband committed suicide 13 years ago leaving me with a 4 year old boy to raise and to pick up the mess that suicide leaves behind. I needed help and understanding. But, to my surprise, I was blamed and I was shunned from being part of the family. I so wanted their love and approval and I asked them for years to please allow me and their grandson to be part of the family. The response was always silence which made things worse for my already broken world – no approval, rejection and added pain. After struggling for years with seeking their love, I let go. I finally came to peace that I needed to run into the Lord’s arms and ask for his love to fill the areas of my heart that were shattered and to help me find approval in Him. It has been quite a long journey of not seeking their approval or needing their understanding. But, the Lord has been good and He has showered on me the grace to embrace each new day with a fresh awareness of His love and approval of me.
God Bless You!
Janine Sabin says
Daily! As a recovering co-dependent people pleaser I felt lonely and misunderstood for YEARS. Yet by practicing quieting the “inner committee” and listening intently for my mighty counselor’s voice I have been living with bold fear and trembling courage to claim His WILL and abundant life. AMAZING things have happened by stepping in faith NOT in my strength. It is ONLY when I see others thru Gods eyes that I can offer His grace & goodness. Daily I can get in His way… but I now see how falliable I am and letting go of perfectionism for divine living has energized my spirit and joy.