We all like to receive praise and affirmation. And yet what can be used for encouragement, can become an addictive narcotic of the soul, if we are not careful.
An unhealthy dependence on people for affirmation traps us in a horrible prison. The bible calls this dependence "the fear of man". "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe" (Proverbs 29:25). The apostle Paul speaks of the same trap as "trying to win the approval of men" (Galatians 1:10). Jesus called it loving "praise from men more than praise from God" (John 12:43). In more colloquial terms, my spiritual father, Jack Miller, referred to it as "being an approval suck." Being controlled by the "fear of man" is to make people, rather than God, our delight-our great delight.
-Scotty Smith, Objects of His Affection, Coming Alive to the Compelling Love of God
If you are in ministry, being an approval suck and wanting to please people is a tremendous potential pitfall. According to Craig Groeschel, if we’re not careful, we, as ministry leaders and pastors, might find ourselves asking the wrong questions, such as...
- Did you like my sermon?
- Do I have enough funny stories in this message?
- Did I do a good job at the funeral? Did they like it?
- Do the people think I’m a good pastor?
Ben Redmond received this note from a youth pastor friend of his. His friend received this anonymous letter in the mail last week, and Ben had permission to post it on his blog:
Would you Please resign! Move on!
The children did not have bible camp this year
There is not a new membership class.
The teens can't help pick up trash
along the highway; because the youth
director is not smart enough to look
into this. the teens can't help make apple pies
because the youth director is not
smart enough to look into this
you act and dress like
you are of the world and not for
the world. Please look into resigning
and moving on!
First of all, an anonymous letter isn't biblical, it violates Matthew 18, this person should have gone directly to the youth pastor, they were a coward.
Second, it shows the trap of trying to please people. You may try to please people and even succeed at times, but you will never please EVERYONE!
Resist the temptation to be a people pleaser and live in the power of the Gospel. Jesus tells you that you are accepted and loved not based on what you may do (or not do), not whether you succeed (or if you fail) and not based on what others may think of you (whether good or bad). You are loved and accepted based on what He did for you on the cross!
Make sure to keep God you great delight.