Approval Addicts Leads to Embellished Reality

The Bible tells the story of a young man named Rehoboam who following the death of his father Solomon became King of Israel.  Shortly after coming to power the people sent another ruler Jereboam to ask that high tax laws would be changed.  Since he needed counsel Rehoboam called for Solomon’s wise men who told him to lower taxes and gain the peoples trust.  But instead of listening to officers who served for years the King obeyed his friends who advised him to make things much harder for the people. This foolish choice resulted in the people rebelling against his authority.[1]

Why would a new king listen to friends who had no experience giving guidance instead of wise men who had served for years?  Part of this is because they had a strong relationship with Reheboam, but no doubt they spent lots of time flattering the King with their words and actions.  It was an ego inflated by empty praise that chose to reject the words of wisdom.

Approval addicts are constantly looking for a feeling of happiness that comes from the love and acceptance of others.  Most of the time they take advantage of others by attracting attention and encouragement any way possible.  But they are being used more times than they realize.  The acceptance junkie is in especially serious danger of being controlled by flattery just like king Reheboam.

The flattery that approval addicts are susceptible to downplays weaknesses while extolling strengths.  It has been described as wishing, “his best would be seen than better than it is and his worst would be seen as nobler than it is.”[2]  There will always be an excuse for the wicked or foolish action, and the motivation for action absolutely had to be God honoring.  Also all successes or strengths will never be given the credit deserved.

After hearing words of praise for long enough anyone would start to believe them.  So the flattery of friends over time develops an embellished view of reality for the Approval Addict, which of course meets their desire for encouragement and encouragement from others.  This feeling of acceptance leads them to seek out more friends who will feed the embellished reality instead of what is really happening.  Soon the true friends who see the approval addict’s selfish heart and try to help have been rejected in favor of more empty praise.

Though the embellished reality keeps them from discouragement or frustration it also gives them a view of reality that’s totally false which encourages foolish action.  There is more than a spiritual blindness involved when we place the love of others above the command of God, our understanding becomes blind as well.  The addict places so much faith in that daydream or reality created in their minds that they believe it absolutely has to work out while having no real proof it will.

King Rehoboam no doubt had convinced himself that the people would respond to his higher tax program with great excitement.  But the rebellion and war that followed completely shattered his embellished reality and brought him back to the real world.  It’s true that the world flattery creates is very tempting, but we must remember that the experiences of life will show just how embellished it is.


[1] I Kings 12:1-16

[2] Pleasing People:  How not to be an Approval Junkie, Lou Priolo

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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