During a recent trip to China , I was invited to spend some time with some friends who live there. They asked me questions that ranged far and wide, but here they asked me “as a public persona, do you struggle with desiring the approval of others? How do you deal with it?” Here is my answer.
As a public persona, do you struggle with desiring the approval of others? How do you deal with it?
No, it’s a great question. I stopped paying attention to statistics. So, in theory, I can learn exactly how many people read my site, how many people follow me on Twitter, how many people follow me on Facebook, numbers, numbers, numbers. I very purposely chose to stop looking at all that because it was doing something really bad within me. I was comparing myself. And the only thing I could compare myself to was other people. And so now I’m judging myself. My happiness, my joy, my sorrow, is dependent on that other person. And really, I can only be joyful if I’m doing better than that other person. Or, if he’s doing better than me, I’m going to be miserable. So it’s a losing game. I should be rejoicing if he’s doing well because he’s writing good material and if people are lauding him and thanking him for the good work he’s done, what does it say about me if I’m resenting that?
So, I had to do some really serious work within to adjust my attitude and to see why that was so hard. And I came to realize I was really struggling with the sin of envy. Envy is a sin that compares, right, so when you’re envious of someone, you compare yourself to that person. When you win the comparison, you grow in pride. When you lose the comparison, you just become miserable. So it’s a sin that never delivers any joy, right. Either way, you’re either going to grow in pride or you’re going to grow in this ungodly anger or sorrow. So, I had to really grapple with that sin and ask the Lord to forgive me for that sin and really fight hard against that sin.
One of the ways I did that was to start praising and to start helping the people that I would naturally compare myself to. So instead of resenting them, I was going to say, read this person, he’s writing great material, and direct people to him. And that was, I think, myself before the Lord just trying to say, I’m serious about this. If that person is going to have a much more successful blog or have many more readers, if that brings glory to you, then I’m going to have to be okay with that. And I think over time, the Lord really helped me to come to grips with that, to be content with that.
But, comparison is the enemy of joy, right. The more we compare ourselves to others the more miserable we become. The more we compare ourselves to Christ, now we’re comparing ourselves to the true standard and we can genuinely grow in holiness.