Living in Approval

As we continue to observe Epiphany, we hope you begin each day with our weekly scriptures and prayers that are posted each Monday.

I did it after every basketball game I played. Every time I brought home a report card. After every competition or tournament. Any time I tried to achieve anything. It’s a ritual that I’m sure many of you can relate to.

I would always look to see what my dad thought. To see if he approved. Because a nod from Dad meant I did well. His encouragement meant I had worth and purpose.

No one’s approval matters more than a father’s.

0502051059561father_and_sonFor some of you, this is not an easy subject to broach. I realize that many people do not have positive relationships with their dad.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

I am blessed because I never had to go searching for my father’s approval. He’s always been my biggest supporter. My dad is a warm, loving man that has always told me how much he loved me and that I make him proud. A hug or a compliment was always available when needed.

But to this day, when I deliver a sermon or lead worship or write a blog post, I look forward to Dad’s feedback. His opinion matters to me. And when he tells me “good job”, I believe it. Even in my 30s, I still look for his approval.

I will always be my father’s son.

So when Jesus hears the words of God spoken over him at his baptism, the words ring true and meaningful. “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Luke 3:22, NLT) They are words that every child longs to hear from his father.

Is there any doubt that God speaks those same words over us? The great message of scripture is that we are all God’s children, wholly and dearly loved. I doubt that any of us would disagree with that.

So it’s strange that I have so much trouble living in the approval that I know is mine. I have no doubt that I am loved by God. And I am equally convinced that my Dad is proud of me. I should have no confusion about my worth. Yet I do.

I search for approval from so many other sources. The scary one for me is the mirror. It’s amazing how my mood can change depending on the way my reflection appears in the mirror each morning. As if the way my clothes fit said something about my value. Or that the number on the scale weighed the content of my character. Like refracted light could give me a true picture of myself.

Instead of living in the approval I already possess, I have searched for endorsement from much less reliable sources. And I’ve suffered the consequences. They have been deep and painful. I will carry those scars for a long time.

But the words of God have been ringing in my ears this week. “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” I am reminded of how proud my dad is of me. And just like Jesus, I am loved. I have worth. I need look no further than the Father for the approval I desperately need.

So today may you live in the approval that is already yours. May the words of our heavenly Father fall down upon you and give you peace. May you stop the desperate search for approval from other places and look to see what the Father thinks. May you find worth and purpose.

Because no one’s opinion matters more than the Father’s. And you will always be his dearly loved son or daughter.

6 thoughts on “Living in Approval

  1. I love this one Allen. So much dearer to me since i know all of the participants including the Father we share. This world so badly needs fathers of the statute of you and your earthly father, but more than anything we need the Heavenly Father. I am convinced that it is the earthly father, the one you described , the quiet gentle man, that mirrors the Heavenly Father. How blessed you are to have this

    • Thanks, Beverly. So much of my understanding of God the Father is indelibly defined by my own dad. Not everyone is so blessed as I have been in that regard. And you’re right – everyone needs badly to know how much our Heavenly Father loves them. Since I have been blessed with an earthly father that made that so real to me, then I feel the responsibility to help others understand the same.

      I appreciate your kind words and love bragging on my own dad 🙂

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