Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
Why do we work for the approval of others?
One reason is that the results are immediate.
Irrational fathers and nazi English teachers aside, it’s easy to earn acceptance from others. The recipe is simple: Tell them what they want to hear, laugh at their jokes, and agree with everything. Avoid conflict, neglect some details if they are too prickly, never correct.
Lies become “white” and our friends become many.
Of course, these friendships are shallow. They don’t last and neither are they satisfying.
Our craving for acceptance comes from corruption of our need for community. We are made for relationships, we are better together! But we need true connections not a comfortable crowd. Sugar is not sustenance. The health of our relationships is nurished by the meat of honesty and trust.
We were also created for significance, everyone matters because God created all of us to make a difference. There are no second string scrubs on God’s “team.” True significance only comes from serving. Sin twists our desire into a close counterfeit, which leads to seeking significance in the approval of others.
Seeking approval from people never ends. It’s a pit that’s never filled and beast that’s always hungry. The mad dash on the hamster wheel leaves us feeling isolated and insignificant.
Yes, we must do whatever we can to be at peace with everyone we know.
Yes, we must live as salt and light, and impact others for Jesus.
Yes, we must become all things to all people with the hope that we might “win” some.
But only after we’ve loved God first. And most.