Man’s Praise; a Love, Hate Relationship

Two things I’ve learned over the last two years of parenting, four years of marriage, eight years of youth ministry, 28 years of life.

As human beings, our soul needs affirmation of those who know us, live with us, and walk this life with us.

As human beings, our soul needs to be on a short leash when running in a field of affirmation lest it wonder off the path that led it to the field in the first place. 

There’s been a few circumstances in the last two weeks where I was reminded how hard ministry was when the motivating voices around me spoke from a place of lacking, insult, and degradation. Hope was hard. Identity was confused. Ministry seemed counter-intuitive.

There’s a strange thing with being lost in an open field of praise and affirmation from the people around us – it so easily becomes a drug. We become addicted to it. A quick hit strikes us to the core – swiftly and powerfully. We are validated, known, seen, and valued so quickly. It stimulates our brain, heart, soul, perspective, ego, and pride. It is definitely all inclusive. Hope is manufactured. Identity is manipulated. Ministry becomes self-seeking. Worst of all, like any addict, we begin to compromise that which seems most basic and fundamental, in order to keep the hits coming.

The great beauty and confusion of the cross is that in Christ’s death and Resurrection, reciprocated with our belief, Christ’s holiness, his identity is transferred to us. Two weekends ago as I was leading a retreat in Tahoe with 6 guys in college, the Holy Spirit highlighted the magnitude this identity transfer has on us, particularly in regards to our soul’s need of affirmation.

Twice in the New Testament (Jesus’ Baptism & the Transfiguration) God the Father says of Jesus, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” If we believe what God has written in the Bible then we must believe that we now bear the identity of Christ (his Holiness). So if this is true, when God says, “This is my son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased,” he is speaking that over me, over you, over us, his sons and daughters.

I want to spend the next few weeks praying through the magnitude of this truth. For if I can live out of a place where I know the Creator of all the Universe, the Redeemer of all that is Broken, and Savior of this world, identifies me as his son, publicly declares his love for me, and affirms my pursuit of and work for him, then I will find myself neither loving or hating people’s praise. It will be just what it is suppose to be, pointed reminders of who I am in Christ and the favor that God has placed me in. I will neither idolize praise nor demonize praise when I know that I hold the highest praise from my Heavenly Father through the identity transfer of Christ made possible by his death and Resurrection.

May we hear, rest, and abide in this:

“You are my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased.”

“You are my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

– God our Father


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