Approval Addiction
Shari Braendel

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

One day I got tired of hearing myself talk.

During a time when everything seemed to be going well, I found myself in a whirlwind where God revealed to me that my life was actually out of control. I knew I was walking the path He had laid out for me and it lined up with my passion for helping others. The problem was that I had become so good at it I didn't feel the need to call on God's help anymore.

What I did come to need, however, was others to tell me I was doing a good job. In fact, if someone didn't pat me on the back, I would tell them about my good deeds!

Everywhere I went people told me how skilled I was at doing this particular thing. I had become so adept at it that I figured there was no need to consult God anymore. I stopped praying much about it and would just "do." In the middle of my doing, however, I would make sure and ask others if I was doing it okay.

One day I was talking to someone and God allowed me to see myself, almost like I was listening as an outsider. I hated what I had become. Who was this person? Why was she talking so much? Who cared that she did this or that? Oh my goodness, what had become of me?!

I decided that day to stop talking about myself. I decided to quit depending on other people's thoughts about what I was doing, or how I was doing it. I decided that the only One I needed to impress was God. I knew that it wasn't going to happen without thought and planning. This desire for approval was not going to go away by itself.

First, I sat down and had a good cry. Then I consulted God and prayed. I made a decision to be quiet about myself for 30 days. Whenever I talked to someone, I would not mention "me" at all. I would not recount my accomplishments, my breakthroughs, or my shortcomings. Nothing. I decided to begin listening to others as if hearing them for the first time. If they asked about me, I would simply answer, "I'm doing great, thank you." That's it. No more information. I wanted to turn outward and begin to invest in other people's lives.

Well, 30 days turned into 60 days, and then into 90. I will tell you…I'm different now. My friends would probably agree, but I can honestly say I don't desire their approval anymore. It's funny how when we turn attention away from ourselves, we end up feeling more complete in the end. Because truly, the only thing that completes us is God.

Dear Lord, forgive me for seeking approval from anyone but You. Teach me to be silent so I can hear others and most importantly, hear You. Bring to my attention, in a way that only You can, times when I am becoming self-absorbed during conversations. Thank You for loving me enough to help me grow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and accompanying Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues

6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Shari’s blog

Begin listening at home first! For more ideas check out Conversations Starters for the Dinner Table

Application Steps:
Spend some time in prayer and sit silently. What is God telling you?

If we practice sitting quietly and listening to our heavenly Father we are sure to become a better friend to those around us. Pray to become a great listener and decide to encourage others in what they are doing well instead of telling them about your good deeds or the good deeds of someone else you know.

Reflections:
When a friend tells me something that's happened to her, do I have to recount a situation that's happened to me or someone else I know? Why not let her tell her story and just listen?

Do I need to set aside some time to be silent and practice listening?

What would I observe if I stepped outside my conversations and looked in? Would I see an encourager or someone who talks a lot about herself or others?

Power Verses:
James 1:19, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." (NIV)

1 Samuel 2:3, "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed." (NIV)

Jeremiah 9:24, "'But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD." (NIV)

© 2010 by Shari Braendel. All rights reserved.

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great message. No one wants to admit that they might be self-focused, when we all do this. I want to be a better listener, not only for my family but more importantly to God. I'm not sure he is speaking to me but I'm sure he is - I've just not been listening.
Blessing to you.

Blogger Candace said...

Thank you for this devotion. I know this truely was meant for me today. I also am in the ministry and sometimes God really needs to gives me little more of a nudge to keep me on track to not let things go to my head and let myself have the glory instead of God. Thanks for your words today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a message I had not given much thought too. However as I sat reading this devotion, I had to admit to myself that I seek others approval over everything I do. That is not what I want, I want God to be proud of me and what I do, I want heavenly crowns, not earthly pats on the back, I believe there is a scripture that says if you seek earthly gratification that is your reward, but if you do it for heavenly reasons, your treasure awaits you in heaven. That was paraphrased because I dont have time to look it up right now. Thanks for the devotion.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow this came at a great time for me also. i've been looking to facebook for approval i want people to like me and be my friend but i end up lonelly and hurt cause either i don't like their reponse or they don't respond at all. i want to look to god to be the one to fill the empty hole in my heart and soul i just am not sure how. i did pray to him this morning to help me and after reading this maybe i can find the directions i need............

Blogger Jennifer Fripp said...

This was such a great post! Thank you so much for this reminder! I have found myself in the beginning stages of this lately, and God has prompted my heart, but I was unsure of what/where to go next...my knees. Thank you so much!
Jennifer

Blogger Susan said...

When a friend tells me something that's happened to her, do I have to recount a situation that's happened to me or someone else I know? Why not let her tell her story and just listen?


OUCH....that hurt...now to go learn and grow

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true! "The only thing that completes us is God." I have an approval/validation addiciton that I have been expecting others to satisfy. My 30 day challenge is to remember who I am in Christ -whether anyone validates me or not, I am complete in God. Thank you for sharing and God bless you!!

Anonymous Sarah said...

Great post - especially in this age of self-expression magnified!

Thank you for this reminder. I will certainly take it to heart.

Blogger Marilyn said...

Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. We all like to talk about ourselves, don't we? The part that God used to speak to me was the part about being slow to anger. I have a fiery temper that God has greatly helped me with but it has been raising its ugly head lately. So, of course, God is still working with me on it and I am so glad He doesn't give up on us. Praising His Holy and Wonderful Name!!

Blogger Gabriella said...

Wow, was this one ever for me. The Lord has also been letting me listen as if I have been outside myself and I don't like what I hear. I am going to start the 30 day challenge today. Thank you so much!!

Anonymous Alex said...

Thank you for this devotion! Everything that we have came from God therefore we should not be talking how great we are but we should be speaking how glorious God is! How wonderful He is into our lives! To God be the glory!!!

What a great reminder for an "All about me" world. It's too easy to forget that our reward is in heaven, that the Proverbs and Psalms warn of the flattery of men, "Do all things as heartily as unto to God, not as man-or me-pleasers.
Thanks, Shari

Anonymous SpringsInTheDesert said...

Today morning, in my personal prayer, I had asked Lord to show me a direction in which He wants to lead me on..I had decided to seperate few days for me and my Lord, not to restle with Him for some of my prayer requests...but to bring me on the exact path as He wants me to be...and had decided to be quiet for sometime..And this post was the perfect word for me...exactly the direction in which He wants me to go...Thank you and praise God for talking it out through you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for this post. It really convicts me, because as a stay at home parent, I find myself wanting so badly to relate and talk with other women, that I often feel as though I'm rolling right over them and their needs with my need to talk. I am going to work on this - thank you again.

Blogger Joan said...

Great post! It is so tempting to want approval from people around us. I know I have been guilty of "casually" mentioning things I have done with the intent of trying to impress someone. But, as you wrote, the only approval we need and should seek, is approval from the Lord! Thank you for the wonderful reminder to keep our focus on the Lord!

Blogger Melanie said...

When I saw the title I almost deleted it because I thought, "I don't have an approval addiction" but I am so glad I didn't. Talking about how you had quit asking God for help because you had gotten so good at your ministry really struck a chord. So true. I have taken over for God. Not that I am doing the wrong things but doing it for the wrong reasons, for myself not for God. And then talking about how you got approval from others and talking about yourself all the time. Well apparently I might have a tiny approval addiction as well. Best to get it under control before it takes over my life. Thanks for a great morning devotional tday.

Blogger DOTK said...

what a great message and a great challenge....I do struggle with an approval addiction, and actually, when I become so concerned about what others think about me and my ministry, I tend to try to do better in my own strength. Then whatever I do is not nearly as effective. Praying God will work in me so that I only desire to please Him.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I love this! Thank you, I have on and off tried the listening thing - this has inspired me to try again, with His help!
God bless all those who read this, encouraging them to look outward every day.

Anonymous Tiffany said...

This devo is very timely for me as I have been convicted of this very thing lately. I will also start the 30 day challenge today!!! I love you P31 ladies!!!!

Blogger ibbynina said...

Wow. I didn't even know approval addiction is what that was. I'm going on a 30-day fast from 'me' conversation! Thanks!

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