How to Stop the Never Ending Game of Approval
- 2017 Sep 14
An overused word with a haunting impact for many.
For people-pleasers like me, it’s a way of life.
The approval way of living becomes a crushing weight of dying. Thankfully, with Christ, death precedes life. There is hope.
Sometimes, we know deep inside that the good thing we think we’re doing out of obedience, is really more about getting approval. But facing the truth of unholy motives causes us to recoil and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Both hands raised. Maybe mine aren’t the only ones? From the various conversations I have with others, I suspect not.
We might think we’re doing something for God or for good in general, but the reality is it’s about looking good, keeping up appearances, and keeping conflict at bay. If this is the case, our attempts to do good things become ways of affirming self and not ways to affirm God.
We are playing a game we can never win because no amount of approval will ever match the approval only God can give.
Maybe your approval game plays out a little different. Do you ever avoid anything that looks like getting approval because it feels like disobedience? Maybe, you say you refuse to play the game but somehow the game keeps calling your turn. There’s a lot of ways this plays out.
I’d venture a guess to say we all struggle with the game of approval in different ways. Even if we’re not seeking it from man, or we don’t think we are, we may still seek it through our accomplishments and even our ability to do it on our own.
We might seek approval by doing all we can to get things right, by seeking attention more than giving it, or by questioning what God is doing because we think he’s expecting too much of us (and therefore doesn’t already approve).
We may seek out approval from others or circumstances. Or we may refuse to care that others approve, causing us to become rigid and unkind. Both extremes become unhealthy.
Friends, this is not condemnation. Nor is this a weight of expectation. Please hear me on this.
In every area we are not fully resting in God’s approval, based solely on Jesus, we will experience some level of challenge and discomfort because we weren’t mean to live this way. It will never bring the kind of peace we need.
To FULLY rest in God’s approval, one hundred percent of the time and without fail, is not going to happen while we are here on earth.
Even yet, there is hope. We can live a life free of the way this game traps us.
Stop the Never Ending Game of Approval
We are humans who sin. Brokenness surrounds us. We have a limited vision to the things God sees. Our finite capacities can not hold all of his supernatural love.
Yet- we are also created in His image, empowered with his strength, and comforted by his love.
God’s love is complete. Never changing. God’s approval is FULL. Always. I say these things like commands to my heart.
Soul, remember what you believe and what you want to believe more fully. Remember what is true because every word God says is so.
When you feel shaken because approval has caused you to duck and hide, literally or figuratively, remember this. Each one of us is on a journey towards home.
We live in the here and now while hoping for what is not yet. We will feel that tension of not being where we were created to reside for eternity.
Believers are given the power of God’s Word, the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the redemptive covering of Christ. Because of this, we can and we must continue to face the fear of disapproval.
Winning the shell game of approval means not playing. Not accepting the lie that the pea underneath is worth the search-and-find mission. Not believing that “this time” it won’t affect you.
Stop the never ending game of approval by remembering God’s approval is not a game. It is a gift.
He is not hiding the beauty of his approval and what he gives is far more valuable than anything hidden or won by playing well. His approval is solely and completely earned by the already spent blood of Christ.
Jolene Underwood is an emotional health warrior and soul care mentor. She provides practical and spiritual support for cultivating life within the Christian soul by drawing upon her personal journey towards emotional health, her psychology background, and a passion for Christian counseling. Jolene writes regularly at JoleneUnderwood.com. She also leads a community of writers called Rise Up Writers. Her tool, Unleash : Heart and Soul Care Sheets, has helped hundreds experience greater freedom. Connect with her online via YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest at @theJoleneU or via the Cultivated Life Newsletter.