How to Get the Praise You Deserve: Summary

I’ve spent more than a week discussing how we desire approval and validation in our lives. It’s a common and basic longing, but there was a lot to unpack on the subject. Let’s review some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Our Need for Validation and Approval)

It might seem vain for us to need constant validation and approval, and we might have spent quite some time trying to squash those emotions because we viewed them as being beneath us. But this is the same as trying to deny any of our other basic needs. Just as we need food and rest for our bodies, we also have requirements for our emotional health, including these. If you didn’t need some sense of validation in your life, then your heart wouldn’t keep longing for it.

And just as how we can satiate our physical hunger with food that is bad for us, so too we can seek out unhealthy forms of validation. Acknowledging that our hearts need validation is not the same as saying that all validation is worthy. Demanding fame and attention are perhaps the most detrimental ways of dealing with this need, but there are other mistaken ways to deal with it as well. Perhaps the most common of these is tying our peace and happiness to the responses of those in our immediate vicinity. Allowing ourselves to be miserable unless one, specific person gives us a kind word puts us in their power in a way that we never should.

During this study we considered the two kinds of validation and approval that are actually a good thing to pursue, and fortunately each is entirely within our power to obtain.

Approval of Self)

The first method we discussed was to approve and validate your very own self. This means taking the time out of our day to look yourself in the mirror, verbalize all the good things that you have seen yourself do, and express appreciation to yourself for how you are helping your own life and the life of others.

Self-validation also means recognizing our behaviors that we do not approve of and overcoming them. Paul recognized this reality of people betraying their own conscience when he said, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15). So long as we are disappointed with our own behavior then we are never going to feel fully approved or validated, no matter what affirmation we might hear from others.

Of course, overcoming our evil nature not only brings a sense of self-approval, it also invites the one other kind of approval that is healthy to pursue.

Divine Approval)

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. - Galatians 1:10

In this verse Paul denounces the idea of seeking man’s approval, but he does promote seeking the approval of God. And what a relief, as this is actually the far more straightforward target to hit. Playing for the applause of the world means constantly altering one’s behavior to the ever-shifting demands of society. The way to satisfy God, however, has always remained the same. We must keep his commandments.

However, as we discussed earlier, obeying the commandments as they are written is not all that we must do. They provide an essential foundation and will bring a sense of validity in and of themselves, but upon that base we are supposed to actively build. We must put good into the world, taking our talents and using them to shine a light to others. It is in this combination of obedience and righteous productivity that I have felt the greatest sense of validation and approval in my life by far.

I also took some time to discuss that we can cultivate our ability to hear God’s approval of us. It may be that He has been trying to express His appreciation for some time, but He has been speaking in a language that you haven’t recognized. I suggested getting into the habit of seeing all that is beautiful in this world as a way of God telling you directly that He sees you, that He loves you, and that He appreciates what you are doing. If you come across something that seems to uniquely bring you joy, something that touches your heart more than the hearts of others, then consider it a gift from a Father who knows you perfectly and give gratitude for it. The more you give gratitude for these moments, the more you’ll start seeing these “love notes” placed all around you.

Conclusion)

Like many things, validation and approval represent a two-edged sword. On the one hand we can become obsessed with shallow counterfeits, chasing never-obtainable ideals. And even if we did achieve the constant attention of loved ones and the highest fame of the world, we would find ourselves still dissatisfied even so.

But on the other hand, there is such a thing as real validation and real approval. It is when we receive these gifts from our own selves and from God. It is here that genuine satisfaction occurs, that our anxieties are stilled, and we finally repose in peace. This is what it means to live life richly and with contentment, a richness and contentment that the world can never take from us, for the world never gave it to us to begin with.

Our desire for validation and approval were given to us for a reason. Not to be a source of perpetual frustration, but to lead us to eternal glory. Hopefully the principles we’ve discussed here can be helpful for you in your journey. They’ve certainly been helpful to me.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 45:21-23

21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.

22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.

23 And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.

Joseph had shown favoritism to Benjamin when he hosted all the brothers for a meal, and at the time I had wondered whether this was only to test whether the other sons of Jacob would feel jealous. But now, with every guise and pretense discarded, he continues to show Benjamin a special preference, giving him a wealth of silver and five times the clothing that he gave to the other brothers. Obviously Joseph’s own life was incredibly deprived for a very long time, and perhaps his indulgence of Benjamin was a form of giving to his past self all the things he never had.

He also sends a great gift to his father, twenty donkeys weighed with the spoil of Egypt, including the life-sustaining grain that is in such short supply. Finally the entourage is ready to return to Canaan and come back with all the brothers’ households and their father.

Or rather, it is ready except for one thing. Joseph has some final parting words to his brothers that I find very intriguing. We will examine them tomorrow.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 43:27-30

27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?

28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.

29 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.

30 And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.

For a third time the brothers bow themselves to Joseph. God has made good on His promises and then some!

Joseph is able to inquire whether his father is still alive under the guise of general politeness. But then his pretended formalities are tested when he sees Benjamin before him. Up to this point Joseph has had multiple interactions with his brothers, but only the ones who betrayed him. This is now the first time that he is seeing someone from his old life with whom he had a positive relationship. He had already been reunited to the worst parts of his past, but now here is the best!

Is it any wonder then that he finally loses it? At least he is able to hold back the tears long enough to retreat to a private room. For all we know, Joseph might have always intended to eventually reveal who he was to his brothers, but I would imagine that at this point he has to do so. He is so close to being a brother to Benjamin again, but only if he reveals his true identity. He doesn’t take that step just yet, but I assume that he expected to do so soon.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 43:24-26

24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender.

25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.

26 And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.

The brothers have some time to prepare for Joseph. Their animals are fed, their feet are washed, and they get out their gift of fruits and spices. Then they carry the gift in their hands and bow themselves before Joseph once more.

Once they had scoffed at the idea that he would ever be greater them, but twice he dreamed of his brothers making obeisance to him and twice now they have done it. And not because they were compelled to, it was their own decision, based on the fact that they saw him as being…well…greater than they.

Not only this, but they also take the greatest of their fruits, and removed them from themselves, to offer them as a gift to Joseph. He literally is taking their best, and once again by their own will. God had elevated Joseph above others first, but now his brothers are elevating him above themselves as well.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 33:8-11

8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.

9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

10 And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.

11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.

I would very much like to know what Esau’s tone was when he asked, “what meanest thou by all this…” Was it spoken as a sincere curiosity, or as a chiding reproof? Jacob gives an honest answer, that it was to obtain Esau’s grace, though he tastefully omits “because I thought you might kill me!”

There then follows a show of good manners from each brother. Esau refuses the gift, acknowledging that he has enough for himself already, but Jacob insists upon it. This is a good move on Jacob’s part. If he took the gift back now, it would mean he only wanted to save his skin and had no sincerity in the offer.

Jacob further insists on giving the gift by invoking the goodness of God, saying that he had been so kindly dealt with that he must go through with his own act of kindness as well. It is an excellent example of our modern phrase to “pay it forward.”

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 32:13-18

13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother; 

14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,

15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.

16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.

17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?

18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.

Jacob had sent messengers to let Esau know that he came in humility and peace. Then he divided his camp into two parties, so that if Esau fell upon one the other could escape. He still wasn’t done, though, for now he put together an impressive gift of more than five hundred livestock, divided between goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys. If Esau did not have flocks already, he certainly would now!

And that’s not all. Jacob showed a shrewd tactic by having the gift arrive in parts. First Esau would receive the sheep, and then a little later the goats would arrive, and then the camels, and so on. Depending on whether he divided the male and female of each species, Jacob sent the gift in five to nine different droves. This technique was likely calculated to flatter Esau multiple times over and excite him to see what good thing his brother was sending to him next.

But would it work? As we will see in the next verses, Jacob had done everything that he could think to assuage Esau’s anger, yet he remained terribly unsure what sort of greeting awaited him.

Seeking Spiritual Witnesses- Matthew 7:7, Malachi 3:10, 1 Corinthians 14: 1 (ESV)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

COMMENTARY

Ask, and it shall be given you
Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing
When it comes to spiritual witnesses, some might feel that it is inappropriate to ask for them. “Do not test the Lord” we are frequently reminded. Yes, there certainly are things that are inappropriate for us to ask, such as for God to grant our every passing fancy. But when it comes to spiritual blessings, we are not only sanctioned to pursue these, we are encouraged to!

The Family of God- Luke 22:24-26, Romans 12:3-6

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.

COMMENTARY

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest
We have a common insecurity. We all want to be the best, the smartest, the favorite. We want to be the hero of the story, and have everyone else be the supporting characters. We fight for the love of parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. We don’t just want them to approve of us, we want them to choose us above all others.
To be clear, our individuality is not a sin. There is nothing wrong in wanting to be a distinct person, in fact that uniqueness is a wondrous gift from God. But we do not need to convolute that beauty by making it into a competition.
Perhaps this insecurity is part of our nature, or maybe it is inflicted on us by life’s disappointments. Whatever the cause, at some point or another we grow uncertain either that we are unique, or that our uniqueness is good. So what does one do with this insecurity?

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us
The scriptures might not support us in trying to be better than one another, but this one does give us permission to be better at some things. You can honestly and proudly acknowledge that you really do have your own strengths. Your special abilities distinguish you from the rest of the world in wonderful ways.
It is not God’s intention for you to live crippled by your insecurities. He wants to give you have a one-of-a-kind role to play, one suited to your unique and precious talents. Then, by acknowledging your divine individuality, you will finally be able to let go of your insecurities and allow that everyone else can have their own individuality as well.