Written By: Suzanne Hadley Gosselin
At heart, I am a people-pleaser. I’ve learned to temper it somewhat through the years, especially where it pertains to areas that conflict with who I know God wants me to be. But it still really bothers me when people don’t like me. In his post “Quit Trying to Prove Yourself,” Jon Acuff recounts a recent post on his Facebook wall that got under his skin. In the post, a critic accused Acuff of having “little beliefs.” Here’s how Acuff was tempted to respond:
[You say] I lack the ability to think big! I just got back from Vietnam, where me and hundreds of people from around the world built two kindergartens. We didn’t figuratively change the world. We literally changed it. And, last year, I quit the industry I’d been in for 12 years to throw everything I had in me at being a full-time author and speaker. I moved my entire family to a new state and left everything we knew behind to go on an absolutely wild adventure. This has been the craziest, most dream-fulfilled, most “holy cow, am I on Fox & Friends live right now trying to help a million people” year of my life. I’ve never dreamed this big before!
I know I’ve concocted similar defenses in my head when people have criticized me. And usually the underlying motive is that I want people to approve of me; I want them to like me. Acuff continues:
We all bump into criticism. Someone from another department at work tears apart your idea in a meeting. During the holidays, a family member makes a dig at something foolish you did years ago. A stranger leaves an angry comment on your blog. And in those moments, our deep-seated insecurities get loud. They swell their chests and jump into our hearts and heads, desperate to take the reins of the day. They will instantly tell you that you’ve got to prove yourself. This is your moment; it all comes down to this. You’ve got to prove that you’re a good writer or a good father or a good mother or a good employee or a good whatever.
The thing is, I don’t have to prove it. Everyone will not approve of me all the time, but gaining the approval of people shouldn’t be my goal in life. My heavenly Father knows the truth about me: both my finer moments and my failures. I don’t have to prove myself to Him, and He doesn’t ask that I prove myself to others. My worth is found in Him. Acuff draws a similar conclusion, “Asking strangers to give you worth is ultimately a worthless endeavor.” Isn’t that the truth?