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Why Do People Chase Approval?

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A popular argument for the existence of God comes is based on what we desire. The idea is that we have desires that can’t be fulfilled in this world, making them evidence that we’ve been created for another. Peter Kreeft puts it this way:

Premise 1: Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.

Premise 2: But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.

Conclusion: Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire (see here).

Of course, Christians call that something “God” and “everlasting life”—only He can satisfy the deepest things that you desire.

To give just one example of such a desire, think of your childhood trophies. I’ll let Charlie W. Starr explain:

“How many trophies from your childhood do you have sitting in a closet or an attic right now? When you won those trophies, they were the most meaningful things in the world in those moments. Now they gather dust or don’t see the light of day. We spend all our lives looking for approval. It’s not just a “kids” thing. Adults spend decades trying to win approval in their careers, their neighborhoods, their churches, their lodges, their country clubs, their online posts, their adult league sports. The boss says, ‘Good job,’ the guys admire the new car, the church folks love the dessert you brought to potluck” (Starr, The Lion’s Country, pp. 103-04).

I think you’ll probably recognize yourself somewhere in that description. We’re all chasing approval. But do we ever get it in a way that satisfies? Starr continues:

“But the satisfaction that comes from these moments of approval fades, and we toss the ribbons or trophies into the closet, buy the next new thing to keep up with the Joneses, or take a thousand pictures on our next vacation to post them on social media so our ‘friends’ can tell us how lucky and awesome we are. The approval fades, and we keep running the hamster wheel, failing to realize the truth… (p. 104).

Before getting to the truth, do you recognize yourself in that second part—that earthly approval is never enough, never totally satisfies, and that there’s always more to be chased after? Well, then, here’s the truth…

“we’re chasing temporary approval because we’re meant for the true eternal version of it. Once we realize that—that what we most want is to hear God says, ‘Well done’—we start to seek that approval, the one that really matters, the one that will never go away. All other approvals fade from our joy because they’re as temporary as anything else on the Earth. But when God says, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant,’ it’s an eternal, infinite, omnipotent approval. It lasts forever, and its joy never fades from our recognition” (p. 104).

Send your questions or comments to Shawn.

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