The Idol of Approval

April 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

On Sunday night my family went over to one of pastor’s home from our church. In the car I gave my kids the standard lecture, “I want you to sit still, don’t make a mess, don’t talk too loud, etc.” No such luck. One of my children decided that sitting still was over-rated and got up about 78 times, another decided that screaming was a good way to ask their sibling for a toy. My neck was getting tighter and tighter, my blood was almost boiling at this point. Now some instances are disobedience and some are just kids being kids, for example, our pastor was telling us about this lovely new rug that they had just purchased, at that very moment my oldest does a little twirley ballerina move and knocks over an entire glass of liquid on the new heirloom.  The response from our host was, “It’s fine, no big deal,” and at the same time, “Someone get a wet towel, quick!” Kids spill all the time right, I was way beyond  “that’s just what kids do.” Needless to say, I was done.

On the way home I was mad and I made sure everyone knew it. When we walked in the front door my wife gave me a look of disappointment, so I entreated her to explain the look, she said to me, “Dear, there is sin in your heart. You are mad at the children because they made you look bad. You care more about what people think of you than you do about them.” Boom.

We have been reading, thinking, and talking a lot lately about idols that control our hearts and she nailed me. I find security, satisfaction, comfort, and control by being approved of by others. But in the end all of our idols will let us down, every time, no exceptions. My happiness in other people’s approval failed me Sunday night, my idol failed me and I was left empty. But it’s in that place, a place of realizing that we have no hope, where we are ready for the balm of the Gospel to change us. Because its only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can find an object of for our affections, a place to find our security, satisfaction, comfort, and control that won’t ever let us down, even when we let Him down.

So once my kids were in their pajamas, I had them all sit on my bed and I told them that daddy had disobeyed God and that I had sinned when I got mad at them. My 3-year old looked right at me and said, “God should put you in Hell for your sin.” She is right. But then my 4-year old looked right me and said, “But he isn’t going to, because Jesus died for you dad.” I was undone, the balm that only the Gospel can bring was ministered to my heart by two little girls that spoke the words of life.

Parents, husbands, wives, pastors, don’t live in the façade of the perfect life, you’ll never change and your people won’t either.


§ 4 Responses to The Idol of Approval

  • Jason Saelzler says:

    Great reminder my friend. Thanks.

  • Britt Jones says:

    Thanks for posting this Matt. It is such a blessed thing when a parent realizes (and owns) their mistake and is able to share that with their kids (despite the well known difficulties in doing so). I only hope that when we have kids we can share in this wisdom.

  • barrie cunningham says:

    Dear Matthew: What wise words and what a great lesson. Out of the mouths of babes. Can’t wait to see all.

  • Hi Matt, This is Stephen and Courtney Smith ( from Monterey 😉 We stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say hi. What a great and true post! I have had to deal with this very thing as well. Blessings, Courtney

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