Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone

Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone

by Joyce Meyer


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There is an epidemic of insecurity in society today. Many people suffer from an unhealthy need for affirmation. They are not capable of feeling good about themselves. For some the quest for approval becomes an actual addiction, as they seek self-worth from the outside world because they can't find it within themselves. Joyce Meyer understands the need for seeking approval from others to overcome feelings of rejection and low self-esteem. The good news, she says, is that there is a cure. God provides all the security anyone needs. Her goal is to provide a pathway toward freedom from the approval addiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446504904
Publisher: FaithWords
Publication date: 11/03/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 127,175
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman; Look Great, Feel Great, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Read an Excerpt

Approval Addiction

By Joyce Meyer

Warner Faith

Copyright © 2005 Joyce Meyer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-57772-3

Chapter One

Facing Fear and Finding Freedom

The first step in understanding an out-of-balance need for approval is to understand fear. The variety of fears people deal with is endless, but an important one I discovered in my own life-and one you may be dealing with yourself-is the fear of not being pleasing to God. If you have been hurt and wounded by people who were difficult or even impossible to please, you may think God is the same way. He isn't! It is not as difficult to please God as we may think it is. Simple, childlike faith pleases Him. He already knows we will not behave perfectly all the time. That is why He sent Jesus to pay for our failures and mistakes.

As I said in the Introduction, I struggled and suffered in frustration many years trying to please God with good, or even perfect, behavior. At the same time I was always fearful I was failing. It seemed no matter what I did right, I always saw something I was doing wrong. I never felt good enough; no matter what I did, I always felt as if I needed to do more. I felt God was displeased with me, and even though that was not accurate, it was true for me because I believed it. I was deceived!

There is a possibility you, too, have been deceived. To be deceived means to believe a lie. Many people are trapped in bondage that makes them miserable simply because they have wrong belief systems. It is very possible you believe some things with all your heart, yet those things are not true at all. I once believed my future would always be affected by my past, but then I learned through God's Word that what I believed was not true at all.

We can let go of what lies behind, be totally forgiven for all our wrongdoing, and enjoy the awesome future God had planned for us since before the beginning of time.


There are two main things I believe we must do to please God. Number one is to have faith in Jesus, and number two is to desire to please Him with all our heart. It is important to understand that we cannot have one without the other. The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God (See Hebrews 11:6).

In John 6:28-29 we read about some people who asked Jesus:

What are we to do, that we may [habitually] be working the works of God? [What are we to do to carry out what God requires?]

Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you; that you believe in the One Whom He has sent.

So you see God is pleased when we believe in His Son Jesus, and He is not pleased when we don't. We might do numerous good and benevolent works, yet if we have no faith in Jesus, God is still not pleased with us. But if we believe and trust in God, we enter His rest according to Hebrews 4; we feel at ease and comfortable rather than fearful and anxious about life.

We believe, and God works. Our work-the work of the believer-is simply to believe. Remember, we are accepted because of our faith, not our good works. Christians are referred to as believers. If our job were to achieve, we would be called achievers, not believers. We often want to place an emphasis on what we do, but our focus should be on what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. We can concentrate on our sin and be miserable, or we can concentrate on God's forgiveness and mercy and be happy.

Once we see this truth, we can enjoy our relationship with God. We don't have to live under the pressure of acceptance by performance, followed by a fear of failure each time our performance is less than perfect. We do not have to be addicted to approval and ready to obtain it by any means. If we want to please God with all our hearts, all we need to do is believe in His Son Jesus Christ and believe what He says in His Word.

I lived in the performance-acceptance trap for many years. I was addicted to approval. I felt if I performed well, then I would be approved of and accepted by God and people. I did not feel good about nor accept myself unless I performed well. When I did not perform well, I automatically assumed God rejected me because that was what I was accustomed to with people. Once again truth was distorted for me through a wrong belief system.

God does not reject us when we make mistakes, but if we think He does, if we fear He does, the lie we have believed becomes truth to us. I once had an employee who had experienced a lot of rejection from her father when she did not do well in school or perform perfectly in other areas. The rejection she experienced early in her life caused her to develop some behavior patterns that were difficult to understand. When her job performance was anything less than perfect, I sensed her withdrawing from me and felt rejected by her. Not only did she withdraw, she also went into a work frenzy trying to get more done.

This behavior really bothered me and made it difficult for me to have a comfortable relationship with her. As her employer I dreaded giving her direction or correction about anything because I knew from experience how she would behave. As a matter of fact, I dreaded even asking her how various projects were coming along because if she could not give me a perfect report she became upset even if I remained calm. If I asked the status of her work, the only time she seemed settled and happy was if she could tell me everything was done, and done perfectly right.

I did not understand her actions at the time, but through prayer and sharing openly we finally discovered she was extremely afraid of being rejected if she did not perform perfectly. Even though I was not rejecting her, her fear of being rejected caused her to withdraw from me. To make matters worse, her withdrawal and silence then made me feel she was rejecting me, or that I had done something wrong. Her belief system was wrong, but it nonetheless created an uncomfortable atmosphere in which Satan could easily work.

I did not expect her to be perfect, but she expected it of herself. I was not pressuring her; she was pressuring herself. Even though I was not upset with her progress, she assumed I was and reacted to me accordingly. Her behavior really confused me and made me not want to work with her. Thankfully, she eventually learned to believe I loved and accepted her even though her performance was not always perfect. This enabled us to work together in joy for many years.

Just as I had learned before in my own life, my employee had to learn to believe what I said rather than what she felt. We must choose to do the same thing in our relationship with God. We must learn to trust God's Word more than our own feelings. We often bow down to our feelings without realizing how fickle and changeable they are. Our feelings are not a reliable source of information. God loves us and accepts us unconditionally. His love is not based on our performance. The Bible says in Ephesians 1:6 KJV that we are made acceptable in the Beloved. As I said earlier, it is our faith in Jesus that makes us acceptable to God and pleases Him, not our performance.

We are not living by faith if we believe how we feel more than we believe what God's Word says. Do you believe the God of the Bible or the god of your feelings?


Anyone who loves God wants to please Him. The fact that we have a desire to please Him pleases Him. To please someone means to be well thought of or approved by that person. We want God's approval, and there is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, a desire to please God is necessary; it motivates us to seek His will in all things. People who have a deep desire to please God may not perform perfectly all the time, but they keep pressing forward and always have the attitude of wanting to improve.

In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we see God is searching to and fro for someone in whom He can show Himself strong, someone whose heart is perfect toward Him. The Scripture does not say He is looking for someone with a perfect performance, but rather someone with a perfect heart-a heart that desires to please Him, a heart that is grieved over sin and evil, a heart that believes in Him and His willingness and ability to forgive and restore. God knows we cannot manifest perfection. If we could be perfect in our performance, we would not need a Savior, and Jesus would have come in vain. Jesus came for those who were sick in spirit, body, and soul, not those who had no need (See Luke 5:31-32). It is acceptable to be needy!

God is a God of hearts. He sees and cares about our attitude of heart even more than our performance. I have said many times that I believe God would rather have a believer who has a good heart and a less than perfect performance than one who has a perfect performance but an impure heart.

For example, Jesus had much to say to the Pharisees of His day. They had a polished performance, they kept the laws, they followed all the rules and regulations, and they were proud of it. They also had a judgmental attitude toward others, they did not walk in love, and they showed no mercy. Jesus called them whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men's bones and everything impure. (Matthew 23:27)

These Pharisees were very religious people-they kept all the rules-but their hearts were not right.

Truth pleases God. According to John 4:23-24 He is seeking worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality). He hates pretense! This is why I said earlier that two of the most important things to God are faith in Jesus and a pure heart that desires to please Him in all things.

A man once said to me, "I'm not mean; I'm just stupid." His description of himself was correct. He is a person whom everyone likes, and he wants to do right, yet he seems to consistently make wrong decisions that get him into trouble. It is difficult to remain angry with him because he really does not intend to cause trouble even though he frequently does.

I am sure you have met people like the man I am describing-people who are very frustrating, yet you really like them. I think God must see us that way at times. We do things that cause trouble in our own lives and then run to God to help us. The good news is that He does help us again and again because He knows our frame and remembers that we are but dust (See Psalm 103:14). As human beings, we look at the performance of others, but God sees the heart:

But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)


For the thing which I greatly fear comes upon me, and that of which I am afraid befalls me. (Job 3:25)

As I said earlier, fear is a terrible emotion-a self-fulfilling one. Job had fears concerning his children and finally reached a place in his life where he saw his fears coming to pass. The Bible says it will be unto us as we believe (See Matthew 9:29). That principle works in the negative as well as the positive. We can receive by fear as well as by faith.

My husband and I once hired a handyman to do some work for us. He kept saying he was afraid he would set off the security alarm. We went over the instructions with him several times but could tell that he still lacked confidence. The first day he came to do some work, he set the alarm when he left and everything seemed to be fine. But that evening we had some bad storms, and something set the alarm off at 3:00 A.M. The police called and said a door was ajar and they had secured it. We had to call the man we hired and ask him to go check. The news that the alarm went off really unsettled him. He said, "I was afraid that would happen."

Fear is simply faith in what Satan says. We must remember that not only does God speak to us but Satan also speaks. He is a liar (See John 8:44), and when we believe his lies, we are deceived and the door is open for him to work in our lives. We open the door for God to work by placing faith in His Word, and we open the door for Satan to work by placing faith in his word. He places thoughts in our minds that are not true, but can become true for us if they are believed. If we are afraid we are not pleasing to God or people, we will manifest behavior that will actually make us displeasing. The same principle works with rejection. If we fear being rejected, we will often behave in a way that will cause people to reject us. We produce what we believe!

Because I am seen as a strong authority figure, I sometimes encounter people who are afraid of me or very nervous in my presence. I don't do anything to make them afraid; they have a problem from something in their past that has left them insecure and fearful in the presence of authority. I don't like it when people are afraid of me. Just as in the case of my employee whose past issues strained our work relationship, it makes me uncomfortable and can actually cause me not to want to be around them. Their fear of me produces the very thing they are afraid of.

I know what I'm talking about, because I dealt with the same issue from the other side. I was raised in a very dysfunctional home-a home filled with violence, abuse, and fear. Because I was mistreated, I developed the feeling that I was flawed and unacceptable. I was ashamed of myself. I was afraid to meet new people because I felt they would not like me, and sure enough most of them did not. Even the ones I did become friends with often told me later they did not like me when they first met me. I got exactly what I believed!


As children of God we can renew our minds through studying God's Word and begin to think differently (See Romans 12:2). As we think differently, we will behave differently, because where the mind goes the man follows (See Proverbs 23:7). When I saw in the Word of God that He actually was pleased with me and accepted me even though I did not behave perfectly, it changed my thinking. I started expecting people to like me. And sure enough, they did. I even began to confess out loud that God gave me favor and that people liked me. I learned to say what God said about me instead of what the devil wanted me to believe.

Ask yourself what you have been expecting out of life, and you may discover the reason behind some of your disappointments. God wants us to aggressively expect good things, not bad ones. He wants us to expect acceptance as His gift to us. God will give us favor and approval if we expect it. Satan will give us rejection and disapproval if we expect it.


Excerpted from Approval Addiction by Joyce Meyer Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Approval Addiction 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a fan of Joyce Meyer, forgive me for wanting to sing her praises. She proves in everything that she writes that she has a true connection with God. It is through her words and efforts that millions are able to see the light. I just love her so. For anyone who feels bound by their anger, guilt, hurt or pain, I also recommend "When God Stopped Keeping Score." I thought that the book was just about forgiveness, I soon learned, it was about so much more than that. I was about how you should deal with friends, family and yourself and more importantly, how to keep these relationships strong when things go wrong. Having read it, I feel like a better person. Maybe because this book spoke to me and not down to me. I have read a lot of books that was written like I didn't know anything. What the author of "When God Stopped Keeping Score" does is talk to you like a friend. I needed that. You will understand why when you read it.
Meena More than 1 year ago
Joyce Meyer and this wonderful book has changed my life and it will change yours too. Every sentence pops out at you and hits you in the heart. I usually write study guides for future review but not this one because the entire book is a study guide. If your one of those people who give more than 100% at work to please with no recognition returned, or just added work because your too good then please pick this book up and read it. Do you really want to wear the wrong shoe all your life? Not me.
grandebouche More than 1 year ago
I first read APPROVAL ADDICTION when I was searching for a book to use as a teaching tool for a small group in a program for women putting their lives back together. It was a smashing success, and is quickly becoming a regular part of their instruction. It's written in such a clear way that even those who struggle a bit with their literacy get so much out of it, and best of all, it leads the women back to the truths of the Bible, again and again. Thank you, Joyce Meyer, for being vulnerable with your readers and exposing the lies we believe that keep us in bondage to the approval of others.
Janet123 More than 1 year ago
Her work is always exceptional!
Lorraine_W More than 1 year ago
I just love Joyce Meyer! Her tell-it-like-it-is approach is so down to earth. She doesn't beat around the bush with her explanations. She gets to the point and supports her statements with scripture which I love. I didn't buy this at first, but once I did, I just couldn't put it down. A must read for anyone wanting to be healed from approval addiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing and was right on time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book!!! Must have!! This really helped!!!
laws on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have always been a people pleaser and needed approval from everyone in order to feel good about myself after reading this book I finally know and am able to not need anyone to make me feel secure about myself but is very important to accept myself as I am .
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. I will definitely keep this permanently and re-read it about once a year.
BanjoLC More than 1 year ago
Love Joyce Meyer books!
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