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The Problem Of Seeking Approval


Women in general seem to have a real issue with seeking approval from others all through their lives.  Most of those who seek approval from others will tell you that it brings sorrow and stress.  So why do they continue to look for approval from those around them?

Seeking approval starts when we are children and Mom and Dad reward us with it when we do what it right. The balance is upset though somehow when Mom and Dad withhold approval when we don’t do what they require.

I’m not by any means laying blame on moms and dads. When we become adults, no matter how ingrained bad behavior is, it is our responsibility to overcome it.  But I think that is where the love for approval begins, it feels good and safe to have approval from people.

But God says that if we want a peaceful life, we should not seek approval from people.
“Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” Isaiah 48:18

There aren’t many things in life that bring such unhappiness to us as trying to be people-pleasers.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

The Greek word used in Galatians 1:10 is aresko.  I think its important to know what that word means specifically.

aresko: to fit, to gratify, to accommodate oneself to, or to be acceptable.

Seeking approval of people can lead to sin. You can probably think of times when you sought after approval of people and it ended badly, with hurt feelings, misunderstandings, harsh words.  I certainly can. There have been times in the ministry of CHK that I have veered off the path of seeking God’s approval and tried to please people.  It never ended well and I had to repent and get back on track.

Even though God has called us to stop seeking approval of people, He still intends that we be servants of His, and though Him, servants of others.
Bob Dylan sang a song long ago that said,…. ” you know you got to serve somebody…..”  We always serve or seek approval from someone. We serve others, ourselves or God.

We know that God calls us to servanthood. As His children, we are to serve Him by serving others.  When we were in sin, we were enslaved, or servants to, sin.

I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. Romans 6:19

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Romans 6:22

Being ‘enslaved’ to God is much different from being enslaved to people as a pleaser. Only God can make all things work out for good for those of us who are called according to His purpose. Only God can safely enslave us and protect us while He does it!

Every one of us have to please some people now and then. Its part of most jobs, its part of most relationships. But if you find yourself consistently angry at yourself or depressed because you are trying so hard to please others and failing, you may be in the trap of being a people-pleaser.

Seeking people’s approval brings heartache, frustration, sadness and anger…. but seeking God’s approval brings astounding rewards…..

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. ”  Revelation 22:2


  1. Candace

    Thanks for the insight & wisdom.

  2. 5 steps to control his anger

    great post very enjoyable read

  3. Sylvia

    Hello Morgan,
    Isn’t it distressing to think of the double standards that we humans set up for each other? We make things so difficult.
    You’re so right: God loves us no matter what. Its because we are His and He is working on our character to make us more and more like Jesus. I don’t believe most thinking people would call us those names if we’re exhibiting the character of Jesus. But I do believe that there are times when no matter what we do, we can’t please people. That’s why its so important to do as God commands.
    Thank you for your comments and for visiting CHK!

  4. Morgan

    You’re very true,Sylvia!!! Unfortunately,we,women are often under the pressure of society,which endlessly dictates the useless rules about how we should behave,how we should appear in outside,and what “qualities” we should have,for example,this was the case in the Victorian period.As if women were not mere human beings,as if they have not equal emotions,thoughts or inner struggles as men,and as if women must be like angels,as if they don’t need inner strength ,as if they must assure the role of helpless female and damsel in distress,and they must not be sinful….. whereas the man can do numerous foul things,and this isn’t regarded as bad,moreover,it’s a demonstration of virility. And voila,the problem,we must be careful to satisfy the rules of society,submit to the approval of humans :@ Nonsense!!!
    I don’t say that men and women aren’t different at all,NO,No,of course they do have differences,but we’re equal in worth before God,we too need only a divine approval.We should behave in our own,under His protection and care(there’s no need to depend on men)no matter what others will say.Idon’t care the reaction of others when I sin,but I do care the reaction of God,He knows my faults and He loves me nevertheless,and tries to correct me,while humans consider me like “non- feminine”,”bad girl”,or “bitch”.
    Let I be the three according to humans,both males and females,ut according to God,I’m His beloved daughter.The rest doesn’t have any importance.
    God bless you!!!!

  5. Tammy

    I’ve found that sometimes I try so hard NOT to be a ‘people-pleaser’ that I end up realizing my selfishness. I think everybody should do things MY WAY… Examining my motives usually puts things back into perspective. It requires constant contact with God through daily Bible reading and prayer to truly know that your motives are pure. I try to run everything by HIM first… 🙂

  6. Millie

    I can relate to this post. I have to be diligent about not doing things for the wrong reasons. It took me a long time to realize that this was an issue for me. I found I was giving my all at church and home for the recongnition and to make others happy that I had nothing left for my own family. Now I sometimes have to stop and ask myself WHY am I doing this? Does it glorify God? Does it help my husband? My children? I still find myself ‘people pleasing’ on occasion but not to the degree I was.
    I have been enjoying looking through your blog. I am so glad that you posted the tomato soup recipe last week at Wardee’s soup party!

    • Sylvia

      Hi Millie,
      I am so glad you are enjoying the CHK blog, I love it when we get new readers, its like making new friends.
      Its great that you mentioned taking inventory of motives. Its such a simple thing to do, but so necessary. Honesty with ourselves can be difficult and painful but when we are honest with ourselves, and with God, we can get out of the people pleasing trap.