Article By: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
I’ve been performing for the acceptance and approval of others as long as I can remember.
As a child, I spent countless hours at the barn with my mom, trying to become a proficient horsewoman just like her.
I didn’t love horses the same way she did, but I loved her and wanted her to be proud of me.
As a teen, I was a three-sport athlete, hoping success on the court would grant me the popularity I craved.
I liked being noticed and praised by my peers far more than I enjoyed the sports I excelled at.
As a newlywed, I felt the need to explain and justify all my decisions to my spouse.
Proving to him that I was right and good, and worthy of his love.
Many people are driven by an insatiable appetite for love; I was driven by an incessant need to be accepted.Many people are driven by an insatiable appetite for love; I was driven by an incessant need to be accepted.
Acceptance is defined as, “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.”
In order to be accepted—by my family, my friends, my husband—I established a nasty little habit of comparing and conforming.
I compared myself to others to determine what I needed to do to conform in order to be accepted.
Maybe you can relate to this struggle with performance-based acceptance?I compared myself to others to determine what I needed to do to conform in order to be accepted. Maybe you can relate?
As women, we often compare ourselves with one another.
I have discovered that there are two ways to do this.
The first is to compare the strengths we see in others to the weaknesses we feel within ourselves.
This type of comparison always leaves us feeling inadequate, incapable, and insecure.
The second is to focus on the failures and shortcomings we see in others to boost our own self-esteem.
This will make us feel better for a while, but those feelings fade quickly.
Let’s stop comparing ourselves to one another and start focusing our energy on who God made us to be.
Today, I’m sharing the powerful truths that helped me escape the performance-based acceptance trap, and I hope they will help you too!Let’s stop comparing ourselves to one another and start focusing our energy on who God made us to be.
Freedom from Needing Others’ Approval: An Interview with Sarah Koontz
If you are sick and tired of basing your self-worth on how people react and respond to you, I encourage you to listen to my recent podcast interview with Jill McSheehy.
Jill just released a brand new Bible study titled, “Journey to Freedom: Finding Release from Spiritual Bondage.“
Many of us limp through life, unaware of the chains we drag along with each faltering step. Jill’s study, based on Exodus 1-18, invites Christians to allow God’s timeless truth and Holy Spirit-inspired Word speak to your life, breaking those chains of bondage.
Here’s a brief overview of our conversation: How many of us gauge our self-worth by what we perceive others believe about us? Perhaps we find ourselves struggling with performance-based acceptance or changing our behavior in order to feel loved.
Sarah Koontz found herself face-to-face with this tendency as a youth, and she still fights it now as a wife, mom, and ministry leader. Yet, through hardship, God pulled her close and she discovered freedom in knowing who she is based on who God says she is.
We know you are busy, so we’ve shared some important time-stamps below so you can jump to the portion of the interview that interests you most:
2:12 – Learn about Jill’s “Journey to Freedom” Bible Study
7:30 – Sarah’s Personal Testimony or “Freedom Story”
11:43 – Sarah’s Struggle with Performance-Based Acceptance
21:22 – Learning to Appreciate our Weaknesses
31:57 – Advice Sarah Would Give her Younger Self
Here are a few of our favorite takeaways from this inspirational podcast interview:
- It is a mistake to base our identity on what we perceive others think of us. We need to stop trying to feel our way through life based on how other people are responding to us.
- I don’t think my weaknesses are a bad thing. I don’t want to get rid of them. I want them to remind me how much I need Jesus.
- The only way to break free from the performance-based acceptance trap is to know who God is and to know who God has made us to be.
- It’s time to stop trying to read other people’s minds and start believing people think well of us unless they tell us otherwise (in real words!).
Closing Thoughts on Performance-based Acceptance
When Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He meant it!
He is faithful when we are surrounded by faithlessness.
He loves us when we are unlovable.
And He does not expect us to perform for His acceptance.
Jesus offers us a sacred invitation in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus invites us to embrace a type of existence that is satisfied apart from the validation of others.Jesus invites us to embrace a type of existence that is satisfied apart from the validation of others.
He has made a way for us to wake up each morning at peace, filled with hope and purpose for the day, knowing that nothing and no one holds the power to derail you.
Will you accept His invitation and find freedom from the performance-based acceptance trap?