Years ago, somebody taught me “You won’t have peace until you figure out who your audience is, and God is the only audience that matters.” While this is true, living it out risks two misunderstandings:
- God is an ‘audience’ we perform for, which ignores grace
- What people think doesn’t matter, which ignores reality
Everyone likes positive feedback. Everyone. Some take it in stride, some feel so bad about themselves they can’t receive even the smallest compliment, and some soak up applause like the desert does rainfall. When Andy Stanley talked about this at a recent Catalyst Conference, he said, “there’s a ‘Lady Gaga’ in all of us.” He went on to share the “laws of applause”…
- What’s applauded as exceptional the first time will be expected next time
- Those most applauded for feel most entitled to
- Applause is intoxicating and “applause-intoxicated” people don’t make good decisions
- Applause is addictive. We start looking for it…we’ll even manufacture it
Once you get a little applause, there’s an appetite for more. I know because I’ve sought it forever. The first half of my life, I wanted my dad’s applause. Oh, I chased after a lot of other people’s applause too….girls, teachers, buddies, professors, and eventually bosses. But in the back of my head, it was my dad’s applause I really wanted. I can’t remember a single time when I met my dad’s complete approval and he told me about it and I believed him.
Without consciously deciding, I set out to make him proud… in the only arena I had a chance…work. If I could be successful, get promotions, make money and have cool things, my dad would applaud. So for 13 years, I went for it. Intoxicated by the accolades, success became my audience and my path to applause. My ‘applause addiction’ led to my agreeing to move after just 20 months in ‘the house of my wife’s dreams’. It was the fifth move in nine years. Like Andy said….people intoxicated with applause don’t make good decisions. That one was a catastrophe.
But a few months later, my “then God” moment happened. I grasped God’s love and for the very first time, I felt acceptance, approval and peace. The love I felt wasn’t tied to performance. I no longer had to have the applause of people, including my dad. Reaching out to God, receiving His love and forgiveness…this was without a doubt, the most significant thing that’s ever happened to me.
God changed my heart, my job, my friends, my church, my city and state, all within 6 months. And don’t get me wrong, I still like applause. That’s human. But I’m not addicted to it nor intoxicated by it. I try to gracefully and gratefully deflect applause intended for me to my Lord. He deserves it, all of it and more.
Question: Are you clear about whose applause you’re working for… and why? Tell us here.
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