Who Approves?

Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God. 
John 12:42-43

One of the most difficult things I face on a regular basis is turning my back on my love of praise from human beings. I’m a people pleaser. As a child and even into my teens, I’d probably have been called a goodie-two shoes. In the recovery circle, it’s known as co-dependent. I like to keep folks happy, avoiding conflict like the plague and worrying way too much about what others think, especially about me personally.

There, I’ve said it! It’s out there. You’d think that would help me just get on with my life and live in complete obedience to Jesus Christ. But I’ve confessed in the past, and even though I’m much better than I used to be, I’m still a long way from tossing my cares of what others think into the wind.

And like many of the best Christian virtues, there’s a fine line between the extremes. As I practice putting my focus on the praise of God I also need to avoid the arrogance of completely dismissing the feelings or opinions of others. So, from time to time my Father allows me to walk into situations that can help me “work out my salvation”, and I have to tell you, they aren’t fun.

It’s really difficult for me when someone I care about doesn’t agree with something I’ve done or questions my motives, and I’ve spent too much time sitting in a pew before a concert worrying about what the crowd will think about my songs or my message. No matter how much I pray about it or how much reassurance I get from my Heavenly Father that He approves, I still find myself tossing around in my head all the ways to convince the humans in my life they like me and my opinions. What I’d really like to learn to focus on completely is the Holy Spirit’s constant whisper in my ear, “Why does it matter what they think?”

I’ve grown a lot in this area over the past twenty years, but it’s often still a struggle, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. Praise God for that whisper from His Spirit. As I listen to that still, small voice and learn to ask more and more, “Father, what do you think?” I find myself able to experience greater peace when the crowd doesn’t approve. Jesus’ stories along with the adventures of the disciples remind me this life is not a popularity contest, while the Psalms and the Cross assure me, I’m quite “popular” with the only One whose opinion really matters!

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