Identity – The Approval Addict

16 10 2008

The newest series at The C.O.R.E. is entitled “Identity: The Search for Significance” which is based on Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance – Student Edition, 2003 [W Publishing – based on The Search for Significance, 1998]. The substance of this post comes directly from or is based on the content of the book.

Satan’s formula for teens (and anyone, for that matter):

Self-worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions

So, how do we convince them that their self-worth should be based in God’s unending and unconditional love for them?

"Please don't reject me"

The first lie teens are convinced of is the necessity of participating in The Performance Trap – “I must not fail.” The second lie is called The Approval Addict, which says “Please don’t reject me.” It is the idea that getting the approval of others and comparing ourselves to our peers is the only reliable way to tell how we are doing on this awkward journey toward adulthood.

Walking down the halls of our schools, students constantly ask themselves these questions:

“What do they think about me?”

“Am I cool?”

“Am I funny?”

“Am I attractive?”

Then the insecurities begin: “There’s something wrong with me. If only I could change [insert quality or appearance].” And then they dream that they have done something that would impress everyone…that would change everything. This is the “topper syndrome,” the need to outdo everyone else in conversation. “Oh yeah, that’s nothing, I…”

A person who struggles as an Approval Addict needs to ask the question: “What am I willing to do to impress others?”

When we compare ourselves to others we never win. We are either totally down on ourselves, depressed; or we’re stuck up and conceited, better than everyone else.

You don’t want to be in the dork group at your school. You want to be popular, have friends, and have fun. Why? Rejection hurts. The fear is so real that we are willing to do almost anything to keep it from happening to us. Living according to the false belief that you must be approved by certain others to feel good about yourself causes you to fear rejection, making you willing to change your attitudes and actions to match the expectations of others.

There is a solution to the Approval Addict. God offers us total and complete acceptance, with no performance demands and no threats of rejection. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, one of the most hated professions in his day. He was a Jew working for the Romans, which would have earned him zero love from his neighbors. He was also a cheat, stealing money from everyone. Zacchaeus found out that God loved him unconditionally and accepted him completely. He realized that his life was valuable and significant to God.

Reconciliation picks us up out of the need for approval. Col. 1:21-23a – Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

Cue the Prodigal Son…

He got his money from his father, left home, and went to love the good life. He made friends who approved of him because of his money and his lifestyle, but when the money ran out and he could no longer afford the life he was on his own and subjugated to the lowliness of a pig feeder. He had trampled his father’s money, his father’s name and his father’s honor. But what happens when he comes home begging to be a servant? His father hugs him and calls him son! Reconciliation. When someone loves you like that, you don’t care what others say about you. This is God’s love!

That unconditional love of God changes people from the inside-out, whereas our culture says to change from the outside-in. Change the behavior and change the person…LIE! BELIEF DETERMINES BEHAVIOR!

We are totally accepted by God because Christ’s blood paid for our sins. Without God’s approval, our self-worth depends on what our friends, culture, and even parents say, and how we measure up to what they expect of us. Living in the confidence of God’s unchanging opinion of us gives us the freedom to develop the gifts He gives us, without worrying that He will reject us.

Next post: Identity – The Blame Game

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