As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.” John 15:9
If He can’t, why am I surprised that I can’t? Do you know what still amazes me? Creation…and not just part of it…all of it. I’m amazed when I stop and look at a spring flower. I’m amazed that the sun rises and sets day after day. I’m amazed that my heart beats about 75 times a minute. That is, wait for it, 108,000 times a day. In case you are interested that is 39,420,000 times a year. And, so far, it’s done it pretty well for 66 years. Oh, and I’m amazed that out of all the galaxies, solar systems, and planets—zillions of them—only one can support life as we know it. Earth. And it is no accident. It is an intentional act of creation.
God is really good at creating things. He made us. The Bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Another place in the Bible He says we are His masterpieces. Now granted some are Rembrandt’s and some are Picasso’s but we are all masterpieces. Handcrafted by the Creator of the universe—a “one of a kind” miracle. I know He made me with a few quirks and several warts and that is the point of this story…one of my quirky warts.
You see, from the time I was a little kid I have wanted people to like me. I have craved approval from the time I can remember. Whether it was from my mama and daddy, my brothers or sisters or the guy who picked up our garbage…I wanted approval. Let me tell you if you are going to have a quirk wart…there are a lot better ones than this one. The problem with “approval-itis—the need for people’s approval” is that it leads to a far worse disease—the passion, the drive to please people. Now if I lived out in Montana where my nearest neighbor was 20 miles away, this wouldn’t be such a big problem. But my life revolves around people—I am a pastor for goodness sake. And, to be honest, I want everyone to be happy and I want every one of them to like me. Sigh.
To be clear…the deal isn’t their deal…oh no, it lands right in my lap. The wart with all it’s bumps is right here. For years I have been learning, or trying to learn, that I will not ever, never, please everyone. But like an alcoholic craves the bottle—so we people pleasers crave approval. And, by the way, I’ve gotten a little better. Now, if I’m driving down the street and I wave at someone and they don’t wave back, I don’t write down their license plates and put a contract out on them. Smile.
If you can identify in any small way with “approval-itis” I have some good news. It is sure to help you. No, it is not seeking counseling and paying someone $125 dollars an hour to tell you that you can’t please everyone. No, it is not moving to Montana…that wouldn’t work anyway because you would think the horse didn’t like you! No, it is something that I read in one of my devotions the other morning. It is a simple truth. Are you ready? Here it is, “You can’t please everybody. Even God couldn’t please everybody.” Now isn’t that just profound…and true. I mean God is like all powerful, all wise, all knowing and can be everywhere at the same time and a majority of the world is always mad at him. How about that?
Think about it. If God couldn’t pull it off, then who am I to think that I can? I guess God could snap His celestial fingers and make everyone like Him but He has this thing about free will. He doesn’t want to make people love Him—He wants them to love Him because they want too. Because.They.Want.To. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die on a Roman cross and He did it knowing that many…maybe most…would never even respond. Amazing.
So, here’s the deal. I understand that I will never please everyone…probably not even a fraction of the people I bump into. I can’t do that, but I can do this. I can love like Jesus loved. He said, “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.” He was saying, “Hey, when it comes to loving people…I’m all in. Sit back and enjoy it.” I can give my best not because a person will respond like I want, but rather because that is what my Dearest Daddy wants me to do. And guess what? His approval is the only approval that matters. We should live, love and long for the audience of One—Jesus.
Well, truth be told, I won’t get this one right in this lifetime because I probably won’t live that long—like a million years. But with His help I can be more like Him, every day. Love God, love people. It’s that simple. If you are “plum wore out” from “approval-itis,” well, why don’t you just take a rest? You can, you know—because He’s got this.