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WHERE DO YOU FIND APPROVAL?

By:  A. Bull

Every Sunday my son and I play soccer. Little did I know that while having fun that I'd learn something on the field.

I'm an athlete, and I don't like to just watch sports, but I need to be involved. I'm always moving.

Almost every Sunday my son and I participate in a pick-up soccer game with folks of all ages and all skill levels. The players consist of young people from the ages of 6 to men in their 50s -- so the demographics are spread out. Within that group there are guys and gals in their last few years of high school who play on select and varsity teams, sometimes at the same time.

To say they're good is an understatement.

Then there's me. I'm in my thirties and have been playing soccer for most of my life. However, since my playing hasn't been that consistent over the last few years or so, my ball handling skills aren't always that great. I have my moments. But I also have those OTHER moments that we don't always want to run home and share with our family.

Every time I play it's an absolute blast. It's a time for me to see friends and release some stress built up during the week, allowing me to start the new week refreshed. It's a time of decompression for me.

After the game I always call my wife to let her know that we're done and we're heading home. The other part of the conversation is what I did, or what our son did on the field. No matter how hard I try, I can never wait until I get home to give her highlights of the good and bad things that happened.

To say I love soccer is also an understatement.

To my surprise I've learned something from this otherwise innocuous, but exhausting game. There will always be somebody better than me. There will always be someone waiting only a step away from me who knows strategy better and who can control the ball better.

Now some of you may be wondering where I'm going with all of this. Hold on, there's more.

Let me ask you, what can a person do to improve their skills? The quick answer is, practice, practice, and practice some more. However, let me pose another question to you. What if I'm as good as I will ever get, and my skills will probably start to diminish as I get older? Also, if I plan to get better, am I doing it for me, my family, or the guy or girl I've always tried to beat but simply can't? Is it one-upmanship that motivates me?

I have to be honest. In my life it's usually trying to prove to someone else that I am better than him or her when they have shown me up in the past. Oh how I/we love to feed our egos. Come on. Admit it. We all do. Usually the only thing that separates us when it comes to our egos is to what degree we feed them.

Now, let's go back to that question again. Where am I going with this? I'm pretty certain -- in fact completely sure, 100% unquestionably, undeniably sure, that approval of man or ourselves is not where we are supposed to be seeking approval. The only One we are supposed to seek approval from is our Heavenly Father, God -- Daddy.

That's a difficult one. Are you guilty -- as I am -- of wanting at least one person to notice when you do something that people don't normally see? It could be anything from cleaning the floors at home, or finally figuring out something that's been plaguing your department at work.

Guess what? Even when nobody else notices, someone always notices. It's our heavenly Father. I'm reminded of a verse in Galatians 1:10.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I'm also reminded of the verse found in Proverbs 14:12:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

I think that's pretty fair warning of where our approval seeking should be focused. Not from man. Not from our spouse, boss, coach, etc. The only one we should seek approval from, true loving confirming approval from, is God. It's that simple! Seek his approval with your full heart and see what happens.             

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