I’m reading a book called, You Can Change, by Tim Chester. It’s helping me see areas God is at work in me: areas He has changed and ways change is still needed in my life. He encourages his readers to pick a “change project” to use for application throughout the book.
I picked the area of man-pleasing. God has been revealing to me recently how much I’m motivated by a craving for the approval of others. It’s what the Bible calls the fear of man. And He’s using Mr. Chester to help me by asking me some tough, probing questions:
- When I get angry it’s usually because….
- When do I most often experience this craving for other’s approval?
- What triggers it?
- What’s going on in my heart? What am I wanting or needing at that moment?
- What am I afraid of or worried about when I’m tempted with this pattern?
Whew. The kind of heart-searching this book is requiring of me is tough. I want to skip these questions and just move on to the next chapter! (I’ve often done that very thing with books I’ve read.) But Wednesday night I’m getting with a group of people who are studying this together, so I can’t skip them. I have to answer them. Honestly.
In short, God is reminding me that I don’t like it when people don’t think I’m as great as I think I am. While that’s embarrassing to admit, it explains my recurring bouts with feeling unappreciated. It also helps me understand why my fuse is pretty short when I feel someone has jumped to conclusions about me (or someone close to me) without asking clarifying questions. Honesty has to begin with me being honest with myself.
“If people only knew how much I sacrifice. That I really did think that situation through –didn’t they know I wouldn’t be as thoughtless as they’re assuming? How could someone who really knows me think I was that selfish?” Over the past few days the Lord has been introducing me to myself.
I’m smiling. Someone once said, “Whatever you think of me, the truth about me is worse than you think.” It’s true. When I’m stretching my arm as far as it will extend to pat myself on the back, I’m resentful that others aren’t joining me.
Mr. Chester is helping me to see the truth about my heart. I’m far more self-centered than anyone knows. I crave the approval of others, and punish them (most often, silently in the quiet of my heart) when I don’t get their applause. I expect others to believe the best of me even when I don’t extend that same grace to them.
Oh, what comfort to know that the One who knows me best — including all my sinful cravings and secret resentments — has declared me not guilty of these ugly patterns in my heart. Because of His death in my place on the cross, He looks on me with approval and pleasure, and welcomes me every time I come to him with, “Please forgive me…again.” The approval I long for is already mine.
So here I am again, Lord. Forgive me for looking to people for the approval that You purchased for me on the cross. How is it that I have been given so precious a gift as Your love and acceptance? Thank you for the gift of conviction of my sin! It seems as if the times I feel Your nearness the most are when I feel the least deserving of it. What a Savior You are. I love you, Jesus.