Breaking the Approval Addiction

To truly care for people requires not caring too much about their approval or disapproval.
— John Ortberg

Mayor Richard J. Daley, who was as celebrated in Chicago for his malapropisms as for his ability to get votes out of corpses, once said of his opponents, "They have vilified me, they have crucified me, yes, they have even criticized me."

His honor could have been speaking for those of us in ministry. Whether it's politics or the pastorate, not everyone will believe we're wonderful.

Criticism, especially "friendly fire," can kill our motivation and energy. Generally we pastors have a fairly high need to be liked. While not a bad thing, the need for strokes can set us up to have difficulty dealing with criticism.

But if the actions of Jesus and the prophets are any indication, then giving effective spiritual leadership will surely mean doing things that displease the very people whose approval we desire. For most of us, it's only a matter of time (and usually not very much time) before the ...

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