“Are you happy?”
A man who was following his heart asked this of a woman who was success-driven in her career. A woman who was always striving for perfectionistic performance to please her mother, never stopping to think what will make HER happy. (Movie: Stranded in Paradise)
Striving to please. Sound familiar? Do you long for success? Do you think it will make you feel happier or more approved by the people around you?
I sometimes slip into questioning the impact I make as a writer. I start thinking of numbers. Number of followers, likes, or comments. I start needing validation again or approval. I start thinking I’m not a success as a writer if I don’t write a book.
Unmet expectations, some I heap on myself and some pressures from society, make me feel I’m a failure in making a difference in this world. I think I should be making a bigger splash, like some book writers do. I start feeling pressured to write a book. But then I have to ask myself… Is this a guilt thing or a God direction? Am I just afraid writing at my blog does not make enough of a difference? Am I just seeking for approval and validation from people?
In The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, Jeff Gerke shares how his “lifelong addiction to the approval and validation of others was nothing but false thinking.” Jesus freed him to “begin writing – and living – simply for Him.”
I sometimes lose sight of that. Sometimes I think I have recovered from approval addiction, but then it floods in and consumes my thoughts again. Even though I am happy when I write, a discontent stirs in me that I’m not enough of a writer if I don’t write a book. Or my inner critic starts beating me up and telling me I’m not doing enough. I’m not making a big enough splash. But what I should be focusing on is writing and living simply for Jesus.
“Success” is never going to make us happy. And if we want to make a bigger splash in making a difference in this world just for the sake of more pats on the back, we are serving from the wrong motive. What matters is living simply for Jesus in whatever we do.
Seeking approval from people will never make us happy. Their accolades will never be enough to fill us up. What matters is our approval from God, and we have more than enough of that. He not only approves and qualifies us. He even favors us and delights in us. What more do we need?
We don’t have to even be concerned with whether we make a ripple or a splash. Happiness is to follow Jesus no matter what and to ask His Spirit of power to fill us to overflowing with His love, approval, and acceptance. Then automatically, that love will brim over into other people’s lives, and the need for success, performance, and approval from people will be forgotten.
Jesus first, no matter what we do, and we will be happy. No, it won’t always be a rose-petaled road here on earth. There are going to be bumps, potholes, and deep valleys of darkness and pain, but He’ll get us through it, and in the end it will be out-of-this-world, eternal bliss.
“Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God?
Do I seek to please men?
If I were still seeking popularity with men,
I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).”
Galations 1:10 AMP