|Posted on November 8, 2018 at 11:20 AM|
A lot of politicians are nervously awaiting the election returns of today’s voting. They are, of coarse, hoping that all their campaigning efforts will be rewarded by winning the majority vote. For most the approval of their fellowman has been their goal for several months if not years. For many that approval is needed to advance their career towards more money and power. It’s not just something they want, it’s something they believe is an absolute need. Unfortunately, it is this belief that underlies the “dirty politics” and corruption we often see in our political process.
But it’s not just politicians that have this problem. All of us are plagued with what Robert McGee identified as an “approval addiction” in his book, Search for Significance. As illustrated by the extreme’s children will go to gain the attention and approval of their parents and peers, this “approval addiction” seems to be “wired into” the human condition. From an early age we learn various strategies to win the approval of others. The unstated belief underlying such attention seeking may be phrased in a somewhat artificial, but useful statement, “I will be worthy if I can get others to approve of me.” McGee simply refers to this kind of thinking as a lie.
But why is such a belief wrong? It’s only natural to want others to pay attention to us and seek their approval. The desire for the approval of others is not the problem here. Wanting others to approve of us is a normal God-given desire to develop important social networks such as marriage, family, and even government. The desire for approval is not the issue but rather the beliefs about its importance and the means by which we obtain it. When our want for approval is believed to be a need for approval we have crossed the line. Our wants are believed to be nice, but not necessary for life, but our needs are necessary for life itself. The “approval addiction” McGee referred to is based on our believing that we need the approval of certain other people.
To recognize the subtle lie in the statement, “I will be worthy if I have the approval of others” we need to see it considering the gospel. Compared to the truth revealed in the Bible this statement contradicts what God declares is already true about us. The heart of the gospel is that God has already done everything necessary to make us worthy in Christ. We are secure in his unfailing love and significant in his eternal plan because of who he has made us to be in Christ. To believe, “I will be worthy if I have the approval of others” is to really say, “Right now I’m worthless (not secure in God’s love and significant in his plan), but I will be if others approve of me”.
The belief that we are some how not worthy or worthless as a person is the lie. And to base our worth as persons on the approval of others rather than the approval of God is the trap. No matter how much attention or approval we may receive from others it can never satisfy our personal needs for worth. Every day we wake up as a person we “hunger” for love and “thirst” for significance as a God-given desire for approval. Jesus invites all who are hungry and thirsty to trust him to meet their need for approval. Choosing to believe, “I am worthy because of God’s approval of me” rather that the lie, “I will be worthy if others approve of me” satisfies our deep need for approval and allows us to love rather than use people around us. It is your love for and service to others that will guarantee their approval.