Thoughts On Our Need for Approval

The following is going to be very academic and possibly boring, but I am on a quest to discover what in the world God wants me to do with this desire for approval that seems to cripple me at every turn.  The following is me reasoning my way through the Scriptures…

Fact #1

I am not permitted to seek the approval of men if I am a servant of Christ.

Paul says, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  (Galatians 1:10  NIV)

And Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  (Matthew 6:24  NIV)  He is referring to money in this passage, but the truth seems reasonably universal.

If I have called Jesus “Lord”, as instructed in Romans 10:9, then people are not my lord.  The moment I check to see if people are pleased with my blog post or my Bible teaching or whatever act I have performed, then I am treasonous to the one I call Master.

I must view people pleasing as a sin of double-mindedness and, according to Tim Keller, idolatry.

Oh wow.


Fact #2

I should not expect God to give me thanks and accolades every time I do something in service for Him.

Jesus says, “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep.  Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”  (Luke 17:7-10  NIV)

I am shocked that Jesus would tell his disciples, How inappropriate it would be for you, as a humble servant, to do an act of service and then stand around expecting some kind of thanks and approval from your master. 

But then I remember it is BECAUSE I have already been approved by God that I have the privilege of being in His kingdom and acting in His service.  It is appropriate, after I have done my duty, to recall that I do not deserve to serve the Holy God.  Purposefully calling to mind my unworthiness immediately forces my thoughts toward what Jesus did for me on the cross.  Serving, then, is an act of gratitude for the approval I have already received.

I thank God and praise God for the opportunity to serve, not the other way around.


I must rearrange my thinking to fit the above biblical truths.  That won’t be hard at all!!  (She said with dripping sarcasm.)

(Of my musings above, is there one idea that seems challenging to your way of thinking?)


  1. This is something I have been seriously working on for years. Just when I think I have it “down pat”, it raises its ugly head and shows me how vulnerable I am in this area, still. ugh. Being a pastor opens me up for criticism, opinions, expectations etc. My nature is soft and people pleasing, I have a pastors heart which means I want to smooth and bring healing. However, I am not accountable for other peoples wrong choices and therefore their sad consequences to their sick actions. But they try to put the blame on me. If I can’t “fix” their situation or life without them having to go through the process of change, etc. then I am gossiped about, lied about etc and people leave the church. Very difficult. But it is the cross I am blessed to carry. it’s getting better, but this past week showed me that I am far from “ok” with the people pleasing, but not being able to part.

    1. Sharon, You should read Wayne Cordero’s book, “Sifted”, written for pastors who are going through a hard time. He talks about the fact that when people are disappointed in the pastor or the church, ultimately it is God they are disappointed in. We need to see that and point them to the gospel for what they really need. Maybe this thought will help?

  2. Thanks for this post, Christy, and for sharing your struggles and thoughts with us. I can really relate to this topic – I don’t view myself as a people pleaser either, yet I do find that I am constantly wanting and needing approval, thanks, recognition, etc. from others for my efforts. Fact #1 is very hard it seems! My new goal that I am working on is trying to focus on the fruit of the Spirit and what I can give/do for others that is pleasing to God and what changes I need to make in my life to produce good fruit. Also, you mentioned Biblical truths and that reminded me of the book we are reading in my Women’s Group right now: “Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Lots of “wow” and “ouch” moments while reading it!

    1. Someone else mentioned that book to me -I’m going to have to track it down!

    2. Jackie, I loved that book, have read it several times. We did it in a women’s group about 10 years ago, awesome.

  3. Great post, Christy! It is so easy to be caught up with feelings of insecurity when you have a people-pleaser personality – but having these biblical truths right in front of you as a reminder is a tremendous help. Fact #1 helps me the most because I struggle to remember that pleasing people should never be my goal – and I have to remember that I can never please everyone anyway, no matter how hard I try. Easier said than done, right? This is one area I’ve always struggled with my entire life and I am really trying to change it.

    1. What’s funny is I’m a very nonconformist, strong-willed person, so I’ve always said there’s NO WAY I’m a people pleaser. It was quite shocking to me, then, to have God point out that I am. Quite a revelation!! Let’s work to change this destructive thinking together, my friend. What blessed freedom we need!

  4. So relating…. Doing things I feel are kind and giving. People pleasing included. Then feeling hard done by and invisible when unnoticed…Idolatry..ouch!
    Great reminder, thanks Christy

    1. Yes, if we are focusing on serving Christ, then the serving is its own reward. Why is this so hard for us to learn?!!

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