Approval addiction: Should we care what others think of us?

I like to be liked, don’t you? Most of us feel better about ourselves when we receive regular words of encouragement from the people around us.

But we can get too caught up in it.

In his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg writes about approval addiction. By that he means our obsession with what others think of us.

Sometimes our sense of self-worth is tied to the Siskels and Eberts of the world who give their thumbs up or thumbs down to what we do and who we are. If we ever receive a thumbs down, it ruins our day.

Do you struggle with this? Does your state of mind depend on your spouse’s saying the right thing to you in the morning? Do you think habitually about whether or not your parents are proud of what you’re doing?

Reflect on Paul’s words:

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God (1 Cor 4:3-5).

If we’re ever going to achieve true contentment and self-assurance in this life, we must realize that we can’t try to please people.

Henri Nouwen wrote: “At issue here is the question: ‘To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?’ Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. . . . Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves.”

But when we realize that we are God’s children, and that He loves us and approves of us, it helps us see the pettiness and silliness in obsessing over what people think about us.

We serve the King of kings, and He’s pleased with us!

What else matters?

Have a great Monday!

In Christ,
Chuck

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