“To the proud, the applause of the world rings in their ears; to the humble, the applause of heaven warms their hearts.” Ezra Taft Benson
Who’s applause do I seek? Speaking of the Pharisees in John 12:43, Jesus says, “…for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” Jesus constantly chastises the Pharisees for seeking their own glory through religious practices. They were zealous and pious not to glorify God and to serve others, but to glorify and serve themselves.
Ouch! Those words sting. As humans, we all struggle in some way with seeking the approval of others. For some of us, it’s a big struggle. I was born a people pleaser. I’ve “lived for the applause” for as long as I can remember. I am a born teacher, story teller and extrovert. And with all strengths there are weaknesses.
With the strengths of the natural born extrovert, comes the visceral need for people’s approval and applause. Applause in and of itself is not a wrong desire, the problem comes when my desperate need for approval and praise stunts my relationship with God and others because I want the facade of me to be who people see, not the real me. Oftentimes, us people pleasers have put up the facade so well and for so long, we don’t even know who we really are anymore.
For the Christian people pleaser, the problem goes even deeper spiritually. When we are constantly seeking the applause of others, we allow that applause from others to drown out the applause of God. When we receive the applause we are so desperately seeking, we swell with pride. And when we don’t, we allow people’s perceptions of us cloud how we know deep down inside God sees us.
Not only does caring about the applause of others more than God’s damage our relationship with Him and others, it also stunts our ability to do BIG things for His kingdom. I often sit around wallowing and saying to myself, “Why am I not being used by God to do the ministries I know He’s called me to do?”
Proverbs 16:2 says, “All the ways of man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”
Even today, the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit pricked my heart with this question- “Are you not ministering to others as you feel you should be, because God has weighed your motives and not found them pure?”
Going back to the quote at the top of this post, what warms my heart more- the fickle applause of my fellow man or the faithful applause of the God who formed me, calls me and sustains me?
I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name (He Knows My Name, Francesca Battistelli)