Most people who read my blog or get ministry updates know that as a child I struggled a lot with what has become known as low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. This came from the fact I wasn’t blessed with things like athletic ability, great intelligence, or popularity and eventually viewed myself as worthless.
Thankfully the Lord revealed to me that as His Child my life definitely isn’t worthless and uses it to share the Gospel of Christ with Australians. There is a part of me however that is always filled with anxiety and seeks validation (encouragement) from others instead of my position in Christ; this struggle is something referred to as Approval Addiction.
It isn’t a bad thing to crave the acceptance of others, but an Approval Addict goes to the point of needing that acceptance in order to survive; the slightest failure or setback in life will seem to them like the end of the world. As a recovering Approval Addict I know how hard breaking this addiction to the love of others can be, which is why I am sharing some books that have helped me break these habits through the power of Christ. May they be an encouragement and help to other recovering Approval Addicts.
1. When People are Big and God is Small by Dr. Ed Welch: No book other than the Bible has done more to transform my life than When People are Big and God is Small. Dr. Ed Welch does an incredible job defining the problem of Approval Addiction (going deeper than just not having confidence) explaining why it happens, and how a proper relationship with God can bring freedom from our anxiety. Even those who don’t struggle with confidence issues would greatly benefit from reading this book since it describes the many masks our fear of man can hide behind.
2. Running Scared by Dr. Ed Welch: A more recent book by Welch where he asks the important question “why are we so afraid?” is also extremely helpful because it caused me to ask what my fears or concerns are saying about my hearts relationship with God. If nothing else this book helps us learn to study or evaluate or fears instead of simply running and hiding from them.
3. The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith: I love this book because it’s written by a man who struggled greatly with anxiety, a fear of public speaking, and stuttering as a child (which he writes about openly). Rhett Smith in The Anxious Christian keeps coming back to the idea that anxiety or fears are a tool that God uses in our lives, and challenges those living in anxiety to let the Lord speak through those painful emotions. Towards the end of the book he begins giving clear steps in how to face or deal with our anxieties, which I found particularly helpful.
4. Pleasing People by Lou Priolo: I found this book very interesting because Lou Priolo goes into detail describing characteristics of someone who is addicted to the approval of others (what he calls an Approval Junkie) and shares specific steps in how to change. It’s A great companion to the books by Ed Welch; while Dr. Welch’s books go deep into the motivations behind our addiction to the love of others, Priolo’s gives practical insight into learning whether or not we struggle with it.