Recently my son, Jaxon, was playing goalie on his soccer team. There was another kid, the big variety that also has a five o’clock shadow, barreling in on him. The ball was in the air, quickly approaching the goal, and Jaxon stopped it dead in its tracks! As per usual, he turned to me with the smile that turns my heart and a big thumbs up. He was seeking my approval after doing something spectacular.
I gave him the ‘awesome job, Jaxon’ and a big smile of my own…but just as he was lowering his ‘thumbs up’ it was clear that he had also lowered his guard, as the kicker’s second attempt flew past him into the goal.
Approval had become a distraction.
Distracted by approval? Is there anything wrong with a five year old seeking his daddy’s approval? No, but I say that to draw a spiritual parallel that when you begin seeking approval it creates a distraction, thus opening the door to a secondary attack. Had Jaxon stopped the first ball and kept his head in the game, he would have been properly positioned to stop the second kick.
So…what are a few things we can do to make sure we don’t fall prey to being distraction by approval?
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
We’ve all heard ‘keep your eye on the ball.’ When we seek approval we are looking everywhere else BUT the ball. When you seek approval, you inadvertently let your guard down, and open the door to the second kick from the kid that throws down five protein drinks a day.
Remember, you’re already fighting from a position of victory in Christ. You are already seated with him in ‘heavenly realms.’ The only tool the enemy has against you is to distract you from the race…and if he can distract with the approval of man, you’ve ‘let your guard down’ in the pursuit of God.
Know the Team is Depending on You
When that goal was scored it didn’t just affect Jaxon. It affected the whole team.
In ministry, looking for approval is a pretty self centered thing to do. It only takes into account your performance and it doesn’t acknowledge the fact that you’re part of a team and we are in this together. A very good way to stay on point is to look to the right and the left to see who is running with you and realize that if you get distracted it will cost them as well.
You’re Already Approved Of
God is not tallying up your scorecard! When you preach a good sermon or do your Bible reading for the week, sure you feel good…but when it comes down to it God still loved you whether you did it or not. I’m not undermining the importance of consistency and devotion. But those have more to do with maturity and what God can trust you with than whether or not He cares for you.
I approved of Jaxon whether he looked at me for it or not! And the great thing is…whether he stopped that first ball or not, I approved of him then. I loved him before he did anything right OR wrong. I’m so thankful that the Father poured out His love and approval on Jesus in Matthew 3 before Jesus had ever even done anything. It means that He approves of me already. And if he approves of me already then I don’t have a reason to be looking for MORE approval, do I?
If you rise on the approval of man, you’ll eventually fall by their criticisms. Let’s guard our heart, not letting approval become a distraction, but living only to expand the Kingdom, keeping our head in the game, and defending against that second kick coming in.
What are some other areas in your life that can easily distract us?