Can I Have Some More Approval Please?

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man (Proverbs 3:3-4).

When I first accepted Christ, I had heard how much God loved me. I was the apple of his eye. I was his beloved. Right? Not so much. The truth was that those scriptures were really just idealistic verses of poetry to me. They sounded romantically religious, like lines in a Shakespearian play where lovers bequeath their love for each other. It was years before the Biblical truths blasted past the concrete barriers of my mind and found their way into my withered heart. For the first decade of my conversion, they were merely fragments of head knowledge floating around my injured intellect. Like verses a kindergartner memorizes in Sunday school, I could recite them, but they did nothing to change my reality. Despite how much God supposedly loved me, my lovesick heart was still lovesick. I still desperately craved approval.

For years, I continued to pursue my worth from friends and relationships. Because of the deep void in my soul and my nagging insecurities, I was in constant pursuit. I needed large daily fixes to sustain my wounded soul.

It wasn’t until I completely exhausted all other means of filling my soul that I finally looked up and asked God for his help. He was my last resort, not my first. But he waited patiently. He didn’t even seem to mind being last, and, interestingly, he held nothing back. When my soul awakened to how satisfying his love and favor can be, I never craved a substitute again. In one divine encounter at the end of my rope, I discovered how madly God loves me. That’s when he completely liberated me from the opinions of others. From that day almost twenty years ago, sitting on my worn out beige sofa from Oklahoma Discount Furniture, my heart felt rich. It really no longer mattered what others thought of me. As long as I had God’s approval, what others thought barely mattered. I was no longer a kindergarten Christian. I finally got it. I understood his love. As a grown up believer, it somehow sounded more mature to say I didn’t care what people thought about me. The desire for applause was a weakness. And that’s been my stance for years.

Until this week when an article about me appeared in the Religion section of The Oklahoman.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve loved the applause. It’s been very affirming when friends and family and people I respect or even people I barely know congratulate me on the article or jokingly call me celebrity. I’ve struggled with prideful thoughts, especially when a prominent leader in the faith-based community sent me a copy of the article in the mail as a thoughtful gesture. She noticed. Oh my gosh! A Christian big shot took the time to clip the article, look up my address and put it in an envelope and mail it to me. I must definitely be somebody now. If she and the newspaper both acknowledged my efforts that’s absolute proof—I’ve made it big time and there’s no stopping me now. Just let me have my day in the limelight soaking in all the sunshine. After that you can call me Big Time Christian Celebrity Christy.

Okay…I’m exaggerating a bit. But seriously, having to sort through the onslaught of thoughts along with the guilt that accompanied the applause factor has made me reevaluate my former conclusion that the opinions of others don’t matter to me. Obviously they still do. The joy I’ve felt from others congrats felt, well…amazing. It made me smile. I felt immensely validated. I know ultimately it’s God’s opinion that matters most to me, but is it sinful that I’ve enjoyed the accolades? Am I puffed with pride if it feels good when others applaud what God is doing in my life? It is wrong that I’ve enjoyed a day of celebrity status?

Proverbs 3:3-4 says this: Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

In the past I used to desire the favor of man first and foremost. If God wanted to chime in and give me a wink, that was a bonus, but I’d settle for just having man’s approval. The opinions of humans trumped the divine, but I had it all backwards. That’s why my applause bucket never got full. There’s a reason this scripture mentions God first. He should be the first one we want to win favor and a good name from. Man is secondary. That’s the divine order. God’s favor is the prerequisite to achieve anything eternal. Without his favor, any kingdom work we complete with mere human effort is an artificial accomplishment, a divine knockoff.

According to this scripture, however, when I acknowledge the divine order, the outcome of love and faithfulness is favor not only with the king, but with the kingdom as well. Honestly, I’m quite relieved. The word has put my heart at ease that no, it’s not wrong to enjoy the applause. As long as my motive is to please the creator and not the crowd, a good name is the natural result of divine favor.

We all need witnesses to our life. It affirms our calling when others acknowledge our victories and share our successes. I used to think it was a weakness to crave approval, but now I realize God created us to crave approval—his approval. Counterfeit approval can derail our destiny, but when we have the applause of heaven, the great cloud of witnesses drives us toward our destiny. It’s when we first have the favor of God and man recognizes that favor that we can truly accomplish his work.

This Week’s Giveaway: Post a comment to enter. Next Monday, April 30, 2012, I’ll select one of you at random to win a copy of God, Girls and Getting Connected, Spiritual Apps for a Teen’s Life.

To win favor and a good name in the sight of God is divine. To win the favor and a good name in the sight of God and man is divinely delightful.

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22 Responses to Can I Have Some More Approval Please?

  1. Erin Taylor Young April 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Christy,

    Great post! I love your honesty. Truth speaks.

  2. Joyce Watson April 25, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    So many of us grow up believing the “Lie”. I have to admit I did the same thing even though I did not grow up in an abusive home like so many girls do, I grew up with feelings of fear, insecurity, not feeling good enough and feelings of rejection.
    Only when we focus on God and His promises are we able to
    change.
    I think the book will be helpful for teenage girls today. I want to start a Bible study with teen girls in my church this summer and a book giveaway would be perfect.
    Thanks for sharing your testimony. Awesome how God changed your life around. Keeping you in prayer. in Christ

  3. Sue Votaw April 25, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    What a great article! This is something I still struggle with. I know I have God’s approval, but how great it would be to be affirmed by people also. And yet God seems to always place me in a position where I have to go against what people want in order to please God.
    I am happy for you in your new found celebrity. May he continue to bless you.

    Sue

  4. Laurie Brown April 27, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Looks like a great book!

  5. Debbie April 27, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I think that girls need these kinds of books to read as they grow up!

  6. Dan Short April 27, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Christy,
    Your reflections re approval and recognition have meaning for my journey too. Thanks. dan

  7. Ann Barbaria April 27, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    This is so very true. It seems like we can easily believe the things God says for everyone else but we really have a hard time believing His words are also for us. That makes us crave the pats on the back from people. When I finally realized He really does see my accomplishments then it is so much easier to naturally be accepted by man. Christy, your words are always so encouraging and real.

  8. Lisa Kopf April 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I can’t wait to read this book with my daughter!

  9. Beth April 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    I’ve been reading a book on pride, and how it can be the biggest obstacle to glorifying God. God will be most readily seen through those who desire His fame above all else. Like you, I have spent much of my life wanting everyone to like me, I am a big people pleaser. But, I’m learning that as long as the “motive” is to glorify the Lord, our good deeds can bring someone closer to Him. God blesses us so that we might bless others. Praying for you…

  10. Rosalinda Fisher April 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Christy, …as always you give me new insights to the meaning of God’s Favor. To the world it means to get favor from men/women first and never even consider God first. I have learned that God’s Favor is foremost important and I know that reading your book will be benefical to teenage girls. I will be mentoring young girls from the ages of 13yrs to 19 yrs. These will be young girls which will become moms soon. They have no foundation and feel unwanted and abandon by their parents and boyfriends. Some of these young girls are forced by their parents to marry the men. Some young girls were forced by their mother’s to have sex with the mother’s boyfriend. This is common with low income parents or parents that are especially in drugs.

  11. Sharon April 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    As a retired pastor’s wife in her late 60s, I’m finding it somewhat difficult to no longer sense the approval and validity I used to sense when I was a partner in my husband’s ministries. Thank you for the wonderful reminder that the approval that really matters come from above, not here below. Sharon

  12. Donna Cummings April 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    It’s been a remarkable journey that you have been on and we are all blessed to be a part of this with you.

  13. Betty Allan April 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Wonderful comments and so true! Everyone craves approval from people, but the only approval that truly matters is God’s. What better commendation than to one day Him hear say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  14. Heather watson April 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    I’m a teen about to be a senior and I think this book would be something I would be very interested in reading(:

  15. Cynthia April 30, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    As I raise my 13-year old granddaughter, I’m finding that so many girls her age are looking for attention and approval. Some, just want to know that they matter, and some seek validation that they even exist. I am concerned that these girls are looking for attention and approval in all the wrong places. I have to let my granddaughter know that she is loved, and even though she doesn’t have her parents in her life on a daily basis, that she is especially loved and validated, and not to look for attention and approval anywhere that she can get it. I pray that she builds her own relationship with God and allows him to become her reference point in which to gauge her self-worth.

  16. Theresa Webster April 30, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    I think the book will be awesome!!!

  17. Davon Spivey April 30, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I really enjoyed seeing you speak at the Elmore City Ladies conference last year. Thank you for the inspiration.

  18. sherie April 30, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    It all goes back to the heart! When you receive the approval of God first, the genuineness of your heart shines through for all to see.

  19. Christy Johnson May 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Cynthia…comment #15… You are the winner of this week’s blog contest, but I didn’t know how to contact you since you didn’t leave your email address. So….if you see this, please email me your address to christy@christyjohnson.org.

  20. Ginny Childress August 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    I so related to your comment about hearing about how much God loved you and all the other things we are told…but do not feel at the time. Went through many years of this myself. I still struggle even though I am finally in tune with the Holy Spirit. I am still in a quandary of WHEN God is going to really hear me or just tap me on the shoulder and tell me He is working it out. I too need a human touch of compassion and understanding. Now that I am older (65) the haunts of my childhood are tumbling back on me and I don’t want to think about those things ever again. I do know that God is good and is in this with me.
    God bless you.

  21. Jane Carpenter August 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    It is as though you and I have walked a parell in out lives, are were you in my head. LOL, But For me I think he had to get to not want others appoveral and to look to him for this. And once I was able to get that he added the other lesson to it. I think of it as medicine, no one likes it, it taste horrible, but it is necessary to be healed.

  22. Charity Walker August 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    I relate so much to the pain and emptiness you express, I am in a clinical depression and it is affecting my teenage daughters, I have actually thought they would be better off without me, & with my life insurance 🙁 I researched it was not a heaven blocking sin(suicide), But your posts and honesty have me thinking, that God has a plan, I don’t have ANY relationships in my life, If my own Mother and Father who are divorced and don’t talk don’t like or love me who could? It has to be me, its not just them all brothers and sisters. I am sooo alone, lost, and don’t know what to do with the word of God that I try understand and implement everyday? So confused!

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