The power of approval can overtake a person if not placed in the proper perspective. This craving for power makes one’s life engulfed with a fight for personal dominance. As the band Survivor declared,
“Risin’ up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive.”
When I was younger, I coveted the approval of others, and if I am honest, there is still a slight hunger for this in my soul. Because of our culture and upbringing, there is a slight bend towards independent success and power leveraged by the approval of others.
I started a full-time ministry position on December 1st, 2013, in Houma, LA. I immediately realized that it was unlike any other profession I had previously. Usually, careers have a few gray areas in how you manage your office, people, and tasks each day. Ministry is unlike any other position.
Ministry is not as easy as black and white. There are different situations and people you have to interact with every day. NO day is the same and is continually shifting besides generation and culture. One thing stays the same: The craving for power through the approval of others.
Did you know that the Bible has a lot to say about power? The Bible goes against what we believe in our society concerning power and approval.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Since we understand that God gives strength to the weary and power to the weak, how do we obtain these lowly traits to receive God’s blessing?
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16 dropped a bomb; it’s like:
The mail carrier delivering your mail.
Your football team scoring a touchdown.
You receive a check you didn’t expect.
Scripture is stating that it’s by God’s Spirit that we can regard ourselves weak enough to accept the power of God. Even though we acknowledge we are weak and cry out for God’s strength and riches, we sometimes have a mental breakdown with approval.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
We learn from this letter to the Galatian church that people within the church questioned Paul on his motive. Paul clearly states that he does what he does for Christ and not for the approval of others. Because this verse was in Paul’s letter, we can only assume that the craving for approval was an issue in the church and a past issue for Paul.
It was my fourth year in ministry, and I noticed that I was growing discontent with where I was. My discontentment had nothing to do with the people I served with or my church. I sensed God leading me to another place and chapter in life. I fought God with this for a full year, which led to me to being more uncomfortable in my current position and ultimately driving me to seek God more.
I realized through this experience that I craved the approval of others more than being a servant to Christ. I would love to say that I no longer want the approval of others, but that would be a lie.
If you haven’t realized yet, backing from others can give us a false sense of purpose and influence. This influence distorts our view of calling with God and gears us towards decisions based on people and not God.
Where do we go from here?
Here are three ways I believe you can keep a Godly perspective:
1. Remember who God is compared to people.
God is in complete control of our lives and knows what is best for us. He desires intimacy with us and not temporary power that approval can bring. Ultimately, intimacy with God is where real power resides.
2. When approval from others comes, remember they probably won’t like you tomorrow.
I know this sounds cynical and negative; however, prove to me it isn’t true. I have seen this more times than I like to admit. We place conditions on people as to whether we agree and approve of them or not. They have to measure up to our unrealistic standards to determine this.
Look, we are people with people tendencies. Because we live in a broken world, we too are broken. Living in a broken world means we need to have a realistic look at those around us, so we are not heartbroken when someone disapproves of our actions or decisions.
If you want to understand this point, just become a pastor for one minute. Something unusually amazing in the life of the church and the Kingdom of God can happen, and I guarantee someone will complain about something!
3. Study, meditate, lean on the Scriptures.
Leaning on the Scriptures will help you realize how weak you are and how much you need God. Oh, the security and peace I find within my Bible.
Those days when I feel like I am on an island, God’s word brings me hope and rescue.
Those days when I feel like the tasks are impossible, God’s word brings me clarity.
Those days when I notice I am not what I think I am, God’s word brings me into His presence and reminds me of who I am to Him.
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