Posts Tagged ‘Recognition’

Genesis 30:9-13 – BUT WHAT WILL OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME? 

My head shouts “Who Cares!”, but my heart whispers, “You do, stupid”. (Image Created by Ross Cochrane)

My head shouts “Who Cares!”, but my heart whispers, “You do, stupid”. (Image Created by Ross Cochrane)

All of a sudden she is here, arguing with me. When I question her motives she turns and says “Don’t kid yourself. You care about what others think of you! You think happiness is being liked by others. Everybody does. What will my wife/husband think? What will my parents think? What will my friends think? What will my work colleagues/boss think? What will they think of me if I disagree with them? I’ll be un-cool. I can’t be caught wearing that!”

With a look of resignation she says, Whether I like it or not my status is based on what people think of me. I live my life for their recognition.”

She frowns and confronts me, “Although you must resent it at times, if you are honest with yourself, you feel better about yourself when you have a following on the internet of people who like you, a social acceptability rating. A younger Gravatar. A little more hair.”  

Before I can object she shoutsSo stop judging me! People need a little help in what they think about me. The first impression. It is up to me to manipulate that, how skilful I am to control those impressions. I deserve it. 

How stupid it would be to think that I don’t need anyone’s approval but my own. I don’t live life in a vacuüm. I need you to love me. I won’t ask you outright, like you do on Instagram and your blogs, but I secretly want to know “What do you think of me?” 

Now with tears in her eyes she pleads “I need your approval. It’s a game of chance. If I’m lucky, I’ll win. I don’t have low self-esteem, as long as you respect me. I accept myself if you do. I love myself if you do. I forgive myself if you do. I make my own decisions if you approve of them. I am happy, complete, fulfilled and loveable as long as that’s what you want. It works better that way. I fit in. I’m accepted and acceptable and likeable. You do like me, don’t you?”  

Then, before I have time to reply she is gone as quickly as she came. I find her again in the pages of Genesis as I continue to read…

She has already been blessed with children of her own, but now Leah becomes concerned that Rachel might have an advantage (Genesis 30:9). When she discovers she is no longer able to have children, she wonders whether she will be accepted.

So without too much trouble Leah convinces Jacob to take her servant, Zilpah, and sleep with her. Zilpah’s child will legally belong to Leah. Zilpah doesn’t have a choice. Human trafficking seems rife in this dysfunctional family. Leah names the child Gad which seems to mean “good luck or fortune.” I’m not so sure it was for Zilpah. 

She enters a game of chance and luck and neglects her destiny. Leah, did God withhold more children from you deliberately? Have you failed the trust test? When my life seems barren what do I do? Manipulate my circumstances on the chance that I’ll be loved?

When Zilpah bears a second son, Leah names him Asher, or “happy.” Happiness in the midst of mutual jealousy between sisters is false. I want to help Leah to see that true happiness is found in her relationship with God, not in a competition with Rachel and not in compromising her trust in God in order to gain approval from others.

But Leah says, “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me” (Genesis 30:13 NLT). There is no mention of God’s celebration of her son. Does Leah know that her thinking is dysfunctional and distorted? Do I? Or am I so concerned what others think about me that I forget my relationship with God. John speaks of the religious leaders as those who “…loved human praise more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43 NLT). 

The story of Leah helps me find my security beyond human recognition, social-acceptability, status, and appreciation. Security based on human praise is so fragile and so easily lost. It is a game of chance. God invites us to find our self-esteem and happiness, not from others or from ourselves but from a relationship with Christ. He knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us. He invites us to a fruitful life, based on His Truth and a recognition of His blessings. It is not dependent on what others think about us. Trusting in Christ enables us to live beyond our insecurities. 

Pastor Ross

Advertisements

Matthew 16:24-26 – WHEN SELF-ESTEEM MET SELF-DENIAL

When Self-esteem met Self-denial. Image created by Ross Cochrane and Morguefile

When Self-esteem met Self-denial. Image created by Ross Cochrane and Morguefile

Recently a firm of reputable psychologists were looking to hire another partner and Selfishness applied. The interview went well and his résumé was impressive; in fact very convincing. Selfishness pointed out that his best-selling book “Be Selfish, Be Happy” is in great demand of late because everyone needs a “healthy selfishness” to drive them through life with passionate enthusiasm. His picture on the front cover didn’t look at all like him. It seems that the camera of psychological pursuit, when faced with the stark realities of our humanness, develops it’s images with Photoshop to arrive at the image it wants, inverting the colours and disguising the blurs at times. All the partners were so fascinated by his credentials, however, that they decided to try him out in the firm for a probationary period.

Self-esteem, Self-worth, Self-respect, Self-care and Self-nurturing, Partners in Psychology, have all worked well together for some time. They spark off each other in animated conversation and are able to laugh at themselves. They all belong to the same cycling club because they all believe that to show true care to others involves staying healthy themselves. They continually upgrade their own credentials and each has a Personal Development Plan (PDP) to motivate them in their successful business. The plaque on the waiting room door is from the Bible. It reads “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” (Matthew 19:19 NLT).

At the time of his dismissal, Selfishness was continually placing his own wishes above the well-being of both the clients and the firm. When confronted by Self-Respect he made it clear that he did not need her advice. He went to his office muttering under his breath about never needing anyone. But he had to admit that Self-Respect had almost changed his mind. She startled him with her intelligence and beauty and he secretly hungered for her company more and more. His infatuation with her grew so much that he thought he would never be himself again.

Selfishness was asked to leave the firm. He foolishly made sexual advances to Self-Respect and it was discovered that he was having affairs with two of his clients, Self-interest and Egotism. The partners soon saw the shallowness of his ways. The cold manipulation of Selfishness takes rather than gives. The partners were not convinced that he was as healthy as he had declared. Selfishness decided to form his own company running one man shows and seminars.

Fortunately the partners soon hired a man who Jesus had recommended all along – “Self-denial”. Self-denial is not as popular as Selfishness, but he was trained by Integrity. As a committed Christian the first thing Self-denial did was to place a plaque above his desk which reads. Jesus says “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-28 NLT)

Although Self-denial is related to Self-love, there is no conflict of interest. He is often confused with Self-doubt because he seems so serious and your first impression of him may be that he is Negative because he was chosen above Selfishness, but once you get to know him you soon discover he lives life to the full. He has learned the value of thinking long-term. He chooses the interests of God above his own interests in order to show love to others and in turn to himself. He is healthy and athletic and inevitably wins races against Self-interest.

Self-denial has developed a wonderful mentoring role with Self-esteem, the daughter of Truth. He inspires her to see herself as God sees her, both in terms of her negative and positive behaviours. Self-esteem was mixing with Recognition, Social-acceptability, Status, and Appreciation, but inevitably found such friendships so fragile that they were easily lost. Self-denial says that we do not find Self-esteem from others or from ourselves but from God. Seeking after God enables us to find a true appraisal of ourselves, and to grow in maturity. It is not dependent on what others think about us.

Self-denial works closely with Self-evaluation, a consultant for the team; a valuable member who recognizes his own strengths and weaknesses, whereas Self denial encourages us to co-operate with God, and live beyond ourselves. Another favourite saying of Self-denial is Proverbs 3:5-7 (NLT) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil” 

What does Self-denial mean? Self-denial invites us to make an active commitment to turn away from Selfishness and Status-seeking and to make a deliberate, voluntary choice to follow Christ with a determined and unwavering resolve, no matter what the cost (Matthew 16:21). 

Pastor Ross