“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal,
I would not be Christ’s servant.” ~Galatians 1:10 NLT
Lately, clients, loved ones, and near-strangers have offered words and gestures that give me a sense I’m on the right track in my path. As blessed as these approvals make me feel, I receive them gingerly. As I grow in faith, I’ve noticed how easily these comments can pull me out of dependence on God’s direction and victories in my life. I’m learning the balance of receiving praise and recognition.
Just today I was thrilled to be quoted by one of my latest favorite bloggers and author of the most recent book I read cover-to-cover (it’s amazing, by the way…highly recommend reading Real Men Don’t Text). This weekend, a friend bought my dinner in appreciation for the time and effort I put in to co-lead our Bible study group. Another friend boasts about my ability to offer the right words of wisdom. Even YOU, as one of my blog followers, have been a huge compliment as I see new subscribers and comments pop up. I’m overwhelmed by this season and trying to handle it gracefully, humbly, and gratefully.
You see, very recently I was spinning in rejection and the confusion of not “fitting in” or feeling as though I was an outsider. I learned how to find comfort in rejection because it’s God’s approval I should be seeking, not that of people. I learned to expect rejection the closer I follow and mirror Christ. I learned to take the outcast feeling as a signal of being on track with God. Rejection helped me depend on my faith and seek more of His word and truth. Galatians 1:10, Colossians 3:23, and other verses, reassured me that I could survive as an outsider if I am approved by God.
So the praise and recognition from others has me now in a place where I’m reminded by my friends to “just say ‘Thank you'” and receive the credit. I can see how God has used others’ rejections to show me the bittersweet blessing of being set apart because of Him. And now I can see how He uses others’ acknowledgements to show me His approval. I’m soaking up these times where I see approval from both God and people, because I realize my goal is not to become people-pleasing, and eventually I’ll be in another moment where I’m hurt and reminded that God’s approval should be my focus. Like a sailor on still waters with fog lifted, I feel this season of praise is God’s way of letting me see what’s behind and a little of what’s ahead, always focused on Who is at the helm steering my course through calm or stormy seas. (I think I must have seen a few too many pirates for Halloween!)
Lord, thank You for the kind words and acts of praise from people around me to lift me up, reassure me, and excite me. I’m humbled, flattered, and want to make sure I don’t let these moments go to my head. It is only by Your hand that I’m able to do the things for which I am praised. Thank you for using me and creating a reflection of Christ in me that will be both rejected and embraced by others, but always accepted by You. In Christ’s Name, Amen