Here is a quick thought as we start our day.  Who are you seeking approval from each day?  Your boss?  Your co-workers?  Your kids?  Your spouse?  Your students?  Maybe even yourself?

None of us are immune to seeking approval, we all need encouragement and want to be accepted and appreciated.  Sometimes though, it is the desire for approval which leads us down the wrong path.

I was reading through Galatians this morning and this verse really jumped out at me.

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. NIV Galatians 1:10

Many times when I feel underappreciated, lonely, unloved, left out, discouraged, I have a tendency to shift my motives.  This past year someone (I will call him Fred for the sake of the story, I don’t think I know a Fred) criticized a specific aspect of my ministry. It was not a big deal, no one else cared.  Honestly it should have gone in one ear and out the other, but it did not.  I was already kinda throwing myself a pity party and this little bit of criticism is all I needed to put me over the edge.  I wanted appreciation and approval.  I was hungry for it.

It was not to long after this criticism I was trying to make a decision and found myself thinking, “what would Fred think?”  You know, the typical WWFT.  The decision would not affect Fred in the least, but still there I was making the decision asking myself this question.  Why?  Approval and acceptance is really important to me. I had to stop myself and reframe my thinking.  Now I do not like telling all of you this story because I would love for you to think that I am immune to petty, little insignificant things, but I am not.

The reason I write this is because I think most of us are wired this way, especially the ones who say, “I don’t care what others think about me.”  Here are a few questions before you get going this morning.  Is your marriage about trying to please God or your spouse?  I am guessing if both spouses mind is set on pleasing God their relationship between each other is going to be pretty good.  Are you trying to please God or your children?  As parents there is often the temptation to give them what they want rather than what they need.  Are you trying to please your boss or God, and this is where it gets difficult, because now we are talking about your paycheck.

So this morning as you begin your day, step back and ask yourself, who are you trying to please today?  Live today for God and His glory.


What are you afraid of?  Heights?  Snakes?  Clowns?  What about something more serious, the unknown?  Conflict?  Criticism?  Fear has a tendency to paralyze and consume us.  It stresses us out and leaves us ineffective in life and ministry.  Ultimately, fear, when not dealt with leads to despair.

Do you know the most frequent command in all of scripture?  Do not fear!  It is probably not what came to your mind.  At least it is a simple command, right?  Well, maybe not.  Why would God remind people of it so many times through scripture?  I think it’s obvious, fear has a tendency to debilitate; especially, when it comes to fear of conflict, criticism or the unknown.

Why would God worry so much about fear in our life?  Think about it though, when there is something you fear, and it is consuming your thoughts and many times influences your actions.  Functionally, the person or situation which you fear becomes a god.  Constantly God is telling his people, “Do not fear.”  Real easy?  Not at all.

So what is the solution to fear?  Two things jump out to me from the pages of scripture.

  1. Many times in scripture when God says, “do not fear,” it is followed with, “I will be with you.”  We are promised through the pages of scripture, God will be with us in the midst of our fear and uncertainty.  Maybe we are so consumed by a “functional god” we are unable to hear the voice of God.
  2. Unfortunately, the second part of this challenge is not as easy as simply listening because it involves doing.  Many times when the phrase, “do not fear, for I will be with you” occurs, it is as Israel is heading into a battle which seems impossible to win.  God not only expects his people to listen to Him, he also expects them to be obedient to Him.  Not simply saying it is great God is with me, but actually trusting by obeying His commands.

For us this means handling things the way God told us to.  If we have a conflict with someone, we go to them and work it out.  Scary?  Of course, but if not dealt with, it will consume you.  When dealing with the unknown it means trusting God and walking by faith.  Fear if not dealt with will control you, but by facing the fear we will overcome it.