Possibly one of the strongest heart idols we face encompasses our deep need for others’ approval. Approval from other people is not bad in and of itself—it would be hard for anyone to live without affirmation. The problem rises when we look to other people more than God for our sense of worth….spouses, children, friends, bosses. Delegating our sense of value and importance to those who can’t possibly reach the depth of our need fosters both insecurity and self-centeredness. Relationships become commodities for our consumption. What we want from them overshadows what we give to them. So it is impossible to love others selflessly as long as we look for their approval. Yet this appears to be the current state of affairs.
Author Edward Welch describes in his book, Running Scared; Fear, Worry and the God of Rest”, that people today panic at the thought of giving more than they receive. Loving without prospect of some kind of return is viewed as “unhealthy” and “damaging.” Yet Welch points out that such “lopsided” relationships mirror the way God loves us. Far from being an illness, loving others more than they love us, loving to give rather than get, loving to show approval rather than obtain it, reflects the highest form of affection.
The more assured we are of God’s love, the more we are able to love others because we don’t need them to make us feel good about ourselves. God has already taken care of that issue. The security we find in being loved by God compels us to offer authentic, sincere, no-strings love to a world gone bankrupt from too many withdrawals and not enough deposits.