I’m a verbal affirmation person on Gary Chapman’s scale of THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES. I’m always looking for that email of praise, a LIKE on FACEBOOK, or a kind comment on my latest blog post. I’ve made sure to share with all my friends so they know how they can make me feel valued. But Rev. Roger Senechal commented in his Ash Wednesday sermon that he was “giving up” something different for Lent: he gave up wanting praise from everyone! I decided I needed to give it up, too.
I didn’t make it to the first weekend when I realized I’d made an idol out of wanting praise from other people to make me feel valued, struggling on days when I wasn’t praised. A friend suggested that for my Lenten Scripture study I should examine the Gospels and look at the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. “Look for examples of Jesus praising the disciples for doing a good job.”
I hunted through the Gospels, and read them again. But I didn’t find a single example of Jesus praising them, not one! No “Peter, that’s an interesting question; thanks for bringing that up” or “ I can see why you are upset with this awful storm out there!” or “I know you’re tired; don’t worry about staying awake with me.”
I called my friend, “Why did you have me look in the Gospels for examples of Jesus praising the disciples for their good deeds? I couldn’t find any!”
“Exactly. There are none. Jesus’ time on earth wasn’t about making the disciples feel good, it was about glorifying God. The disciples didn’t need Jesus’ praise; they needed to learn that being obedient to God and following his commands are reward enough. They needed to take the focus off themselves and focus on God. When we please God it is the utmost of praise.”
Well, it’s hard. I’m slowing weaning myself from craving praise. It’s still good that my friends want to acknowledge me, but now I don’t crave it; it’s icing on the cake in our relationships. My real contentment comes from listening to God and doing His will. My pleasure comes from my obedience.
What is your LOVE LANGUAGE: verbal affirmation, gifts, service, time together or physical touch? Have you made an idol out of wanting others to show how much they value you?
I’m waiting for the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday. His love is all I need.
Blessings, my friend,