‘Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.’ Francis de Sales wrote.
The desire to be approved can become an addiction and the reason for retardation of the personality and loss of self-esteem. Seeking approval all the time causes the sufferer to fail to become a complete human being.
The multitude of voices clamouring that success is being rich, being employed, being sexually active, able to hold one’s alcohol, causes that little voice inside us to say, ‘If only I could be like her,’ or ‘if only I could be like him.’ ‘If only I had the opportunities they have.’ Continually being worried about what people think of you cheats you of a rich and free life.
My mother was always comparing herself to others whom she thought were better, always wishing she could socialise with the people she thought were upper class. She was very miserable, and discontent and made the lives of her family miserable. When we left home, we moved in circles of our own choosing, and mixed with all kinds of people.
Today, I hate class distinction and racism of any kind. I find a great rebellion rising deep within me when I encounter such attitudes and an inner voice says ‘Who do you think you are?’
Because of social media and its power to set fashion and trends and portray desirable behaviour, we are challenged to be different, to be somebody we are not. Maybe the failure to be able to be other than what we are is the underlying reason for so many suicides. It could well be the reason we reject God. Being totally committed to him doesn’t appease the craving to be popular with those whose approval we perceive to be important.
The trouble with approval addiction is that we can never get enough approval, and we can never please all of the people all of the time. To gain approval from everyone is impossible. That is why it is so easy to please God. Our approval rating in society holds no water with him. The only approval rating he considers is based on whether we have accepted Christ as our saviour. God himself has no approval ratings to worry about. He is no respecter of persons. He does not discriminate between classes, nationalities, colour, creed or race. Every person has the same rating. We are all in need of being rescued from our mistakes. Romans 3: 22 – 23, ‘And we can all be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Yes, all have sinned: all fall short of God’s glorious ideal;’ (LB)
One Biblical writer suggests ‘However, even many of the Jewish leaders believed him to be the Messiah but wouldn’t admit it to anyone because of their fear that the Pharisees would excommunicate them from the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.’ John 12: 42 – 43. (LB)
By putting God first in our life to the point where his opinion of us is of paramount importance we have taken the first steps to freedom from the addiction to approval. God values us above everything , we know this because God sent his beloved only Son, Jesus, died for us. Surely, such an act of love must capture our heart and save us from the addiction of human approval.
God desires our total allegiance and when we give it he doesn’t enslave us again to a life of bondage to himself but releases us to be real people, free people without fear. ‘For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. … For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father…’ 2 Timothy, 1: 7-8 (NKJ)
Being a child of the Father makes us free from the past, the present and the future. We are no longer required to live according to fashion, a set of rules devised by our peers or perform to please God. He loves us totally just as we are. His only requirement is that we accept his beloved son into our very core, our heart and become a new person in Christ.