It’s important to value the right kind of praise. When I was a little kid, I loved to entertain guests at our home by playing the violin, or performing in my own plays, or simply by telling stories.
I thought I was incredibly entertaining! Looking back now, I realise that it probably wasn’t the quality of my performances that people liked, as much as the fact that I was a little kid, and maybe a little cute.
Please don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with being funny and entertaining. However, in my case I developed into someone who was always “fishing for compliments”, with a deep need to receive affirmation and approval from others. It took me a long time to understand where this came from. It came from a deep-seated sense of rejection and a lack of love.
Do you value the right kind of praise?
I had to learn to accept that the glory that comes from God is far better than the glory that comes from others – no matter how important or close to us those people may be.
I had to learn what it truly means to “believe” in Jesus. I was like the Jews to whom Jesus spoke in John 5:44, happier to enjoy the approval of my community rather than the approval of God. Jesus says to them that you cannot truly believe in Him if you value the approval (“glory”) of others more than the approval of God. It’s important to value the right kind of praise.
The truth is that somewhere deep inside us, there’s a place where we all secretly like to be praised, even if we say we don’t. There are many people whose purpose in what they say and do is, even at an unconscious level, to receive praise from others. It’s often the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that allows us to realise this.
A people-pleaser cannot please God
This critical issue here is whether at the core of our being we live with God at the centre, or with self at the centre. The issue of whose approval we seek to win, is one that the Apostle Paul revisited several times in his letters. He presents these as polar opposites, so that if you seek to please God you cannot please human beings, and if you seek to please other people, you cannot please God. He wrote:
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal 1:10 NIV).
To believe means to trust. Do you trust the judgment that others make of you through their praise or condemnation, or do you simply trust in Jesus?
I choose to believe in Jesus.
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the senior pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.