When Approval Controls You

What’s at the Center?


It's a good feeling when you feel accepted by your friends, coworkers, and family. But if we base our value in the approval of others, rejection can take a tremendous toll on us. In this post, produced in cooperation with the Association of Biblical Counselors, counselor Dr. Ed Welch explains the dangers of wanting approval from others and how it can affect our relationships. 

Ed is a counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and the author of several books including, When People Are Big and God is Small. Listen to Ed unpack the danger of wanting approval more than anything else in this first video. 



Ed said wanting approval isn’t a bad thing. However, when we desire approval above all else, that’s when it becomes a problem. Seeking the approval of others can change the way we act, what we think about ourselves, and how we relate to others.  

In what ways have you struggled with approval? How have you seen the need for approval influence your inner thoughts, relationships, and actions?
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How did Ed’s statement, “We live for approval and we can die from rejection,” strike you? How do you relate to what he said?
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Ed said we can mess up good things when we make them the center of our lives. Approval isn’t bad, but it becomes twisted when we put the approval of others at the center of our “solar system.” How have you seen your thoughts, words, or actions change when the approval of others is at the center of your solar system?
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It’s okay to want to be liked—but when the approval of others governs your life, there’s a problem. In this next video, Ed explores what Scripture has to say about the approval of people to show we’re called to love others rather than need them.  



Ed traced the theme of approval throughout the Bible. He pointed out two kinds of people: those who trust in God and those who trust in people. Our calling is to love others rather than be controlled by them.  

How do you view others? Do you see them as people to love or those to be loved by? Why?
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Which Scriptures stood out to you? Which ones did you relate to the most? Why?
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Ed pointed out that what we fear controls us. What do you fear? Would you say you fear people or their rejection of you? Why or why not?
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Ed said we're called to love people more than to need their approval. How could you love others this week, instead of seeking their approval? How could you begin to take practical steps toward moving the desire for approval away from the center of your life this week?
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The approval of others can suffocate your joy. Examine your motivations this week. Do you act a certain way in order to be liked? Ask yourself what’s at the center of your “solar system.” Think of creative ways to show others you care about them and put those ideas into action.  


You can find more on approval from Ed in the course Do They Like Me?


To learn more about The Association of Biblical Counselors, click here.