That’s what we like to hear! We have been classically conditioned from childhood to seek approval from our parents, our teachers, our peers and our elders in general. Who hasn’t been to church as a child, sat quietly and been rewarded for it with those Starlight Mints, yum! Job well done child. As we grew older that same dependence on positive affirmation continued; we did well in school and Mom/Dad/Grandma/Uncle or Big Brother rewarded our “A’s” with dollar bills, we played sports and the teams were rewarded with a trophy or a snack after the game (win OR lose these days). We go to work and hard work is rewarded with bonuses, promotions, vacations or plaques. Society is filled to the brim with “Atta Boys”. And we expect it.
But what happens when your approval rating goes from 96.4 down to 37.3? When the accolades stop coming and the pats on the back become “side eyes”? You have probably heard a time or two about Movie, Sports, Television or Music “stars” who fall from grace and subsequently do drastic things such as fall into substance abuse and even suicide. They are so desperate for the fame that when it fades they cannot cope with real life. Unfortunately this attitude is also prevalent in the Everyday Man.
The financial world suffered another apparent suicide this week, as a New York City trader ended his life by throwing himself in front of an oncoming train.- rt.com, 2014.
There are other, less severe, cases of people who cannot cope without their version of success. So many of us have been classically conditioned to believe that we are only successful if we have attained the “American Dream”. That is, the perfect spouse, the perfect house, the 2.5 kids, the full-time job via college degree and a garage with at least two cars. We will struggle to get these things; we will go into debt to attain an “image” that will attract a certain type of friend and social circle. We will place so much stress upon ourselves to be “successful” that many of us end up unable to cope. This is why so many individuals are making the mental health field more relevant, and enabling more pharmaceutical companies to mass produce drugs for major depression, bipolar (manic depressive) disorder, mania, ADHD, social anxiety, panic disorder, acute stress disorder, generalized anxiety, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders.
There used to be a phrase that is applicable to what I noticed within the body of Christ for years: Keeping up with the Jones’. When I was growing up I had a friend with the last name Jones. Her parents were pretty well off, and she always had the nicest clothes and shoes, but I didn’t envy her, we were friends. However, that phrase has been relevant with regard to ministries. It seems that every ministry has less focus on Christ and His FREE salvation, and more focus on the ministry’s or church’s growth; meaning a larger building or facility, and building schools, nursing homes, everything except salvation of souls. For me, it is no wonder that people who call themselves Christians place more focus on their personal wealth and well-being than they do on reaching their brother or sister for Christ. In the business world, we are not reaching souls for Christ, we are trying to do our best to attain the promotion, raise or quarterly bonus. We are striving for the “atta boy” instead of telling others that God is a healer, deliverer and the greatest “promoter” there could ever be. This results in the inability to cope when tough times hit.
We have become timid and weak “saints”. As the enemy’s agenda invades God’s kingdom more and more each day it seems as if the saints shrink further into the shadows. The evidence is clear that we are living in a new world: the church is being persecuted world-wide, Christian business owners are losing their rights, freedom of expression and speech. The antichrist agenda is widely accepted even as satanic monuments are erected. Yet even though all of these things are evident, we still look to the world for acceptance, appreciation and inclusion.
The ONLY acceptance that we should seek is God’s. Instead of “atta girl” I want to hear, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matt. 25:23).
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7.
We need to repent. We need to take ownership of our homes, our families and most of all our minds, which we have given over to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Many things in our lives could be avoided if we would adhere to James 4:7.
Thank you for reading, God bless you.