The Approval That Matters

The Approval that Matter Header

"Oh Lord," I prayed in earnest, heart lurching toward the vision. "I would love to work for you full time," I cried aloud. But my mind could not see a way.  

The thought had arisen from a meeting with a member of my book launch team—one who had taken his role as a prayer warrior very seriously. Asking unknowingly about my corporate job, I shared with him the awful reality of how hard things had become during the COVID shutdown and the company's desperate attempt to get back on track. If the expectations had been high before, now they were sky high—ridiculously high. I was drowning in the expectations. 

He looked me straight in the face and said, "Working at this corporate job that demands all your time means that you won't have much time for ministry." Although I knew that to be true, it was suddenly like an invitation from God to a path I had never considered. A course that seemed so out of reach that I had never even prayed for it. Yet, suddenly a door opened to this cry of my heart. 

I did want to work for God full time. It would be a dream come true to use the gifts that God had graced me with to further His kingdom. Truly, my hearts greatest desire is to pour encouragement and hope into His people. 

Something in the statement connected me to the realization that this was God's will for my life and my heart's greatest desire, all wrapped in one. 

But there was still the improbability factor to consider. So, I started to pray for a way where there looked to be no way. 

As I look backward a year, with the vision fulfilled in a way I could have never imagined, I can see the steps God led me through to answer this prayer. However, when I took the steps, they did not seem to lead in the direction I prayed at all. One of the steps was to lay down the dream altogether and be content in the same corporate job where God had me. But through each act of obedience, God was making a way in my circumstances and preparing my heart. 

One of these areas of preparation was to gain more and more freedom from the approval of man so I could serve God with my whole heart. By staying in my corporate job, I had to live out the truth that I did not need their approval in the face of ever-increasing demands and office politics so severe, tears of rejection were commonplace for my team and me. It was a faith-strengthening time crucial to my spiritual growth and readiness for the next season. 

We cannot do the will of God while seeking the approval of others. Listen to what happens when the religious leaders persecute Jesus for healing a crippled man on the Sabbath. 

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. 5:15-20

And then after a but more examples, Jesus asks them a thought-provoking question to show them why He can do the will of His Father alone and they cannot. He asks, "How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? John 5:44

Jesus did not allow the culture or the religious leaders to define success for Him. Instead, he talked directly with God about His mission in prayer. Remember, Jesus often withdrew from everything to speak with God. In these times of prayer, He allowed God to guide Him to His will both daily and for the larger mission. 

Could it be the same for whatever God's will is for our lives? Could we be missing God's perfect plan, the plan that would fulfill us and glorify Him, because we are so distracted by the shoulds of our culture and the disapproval of others if we don't meet them? I was. Until I finally could echo Jesus's statement (and mean it far more often),  I do not receive glory from people. John 5:41

Let's Pray: 

Father, you know how hard this trap of seeking approval is for us humans. It seems we have all struggled with this throughout our lives. Yet, you sent your Son to show us the way and give us way out of this trap. Oh, Lord, fill us with the strength to stand up to our culture's definition of success and seek your glory alone. May we serve you with our whole lives. In Jesus' name, Amen!

More TRUTH to read: 

The fear of man lays a snare,

     but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Proverbs 29:25

For I have come to you in my Father's name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. John 5:43

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