Seeking approval is something that drives most of our personal achievements.
When Hilton was three years old he got his first short armed wet suit, a yellow one, and his first body board. We treasure a picture where he is in the surf on his board. At the age of five I helped him to catch waves on an old surf board. In no time he was able to stand. We used to play together in the surf for hours. We even played dodgem cars with the boards! We would both take the same wave and then bash against each other. I felt like a little boy again.
Nola and I also spent many hours on the beach watching him surf. When he took an exciting wave and made it all the way he would turn to us and throw his hands up in the air to receive our applause or approval. We would give thumbs up and clap our hands to show him we enjoyed it as much as he did. Hilton could swim before he could walk! He loves the cold Atlantic ocean.
But the day came that Hilton no longer looked back for our approval. He just concentrated on surfing. It felt strange, kind of lonely on the beach, still anticipating his longing for approval, but staying empty handed as it were. I no longer participated in the joy of catching a good wave. He had friends in the water who celebrated a 360 or a sharp cut back or bottom turn or arial above the crest of the wave.
Eventually he surfed so long that we no longer waited for him. We would drop him off at the chosen surf spot and go home. Then we would fetch him later either at the beach or at a friends place. And then he started flying to competitions and going with the provincial team to compete.
There is a lesson in here somewhere.
We all look for approval in every area of life. But there should come a time when we no longer look for approval. We have an inner confidence that we are doing it right and we can only improve what we are doing now.
Now all that matters is how the judges at surfing competitions approve of his surfing. Our approval is no longer required. He has transcended Mommy and Daddy's approval. And yet we try to be there for him at all times, encouraging and helping him to think with the right humility and inner confidence about his chosen career. (He is a Junior Pro now!)
Paul wrote to Timothy: study to show yourself approved unto God being a workman who rightly divides the word of truth, not having to be ashamed.
When God approves of what we do we don't look back anymore - only forward and keep improving what we are doing. We no longer live for approval, we live to do what we know we can do and what we are called to do.
We no longer seek the approval of men, but we have found a higher honor: the approval of God. When we have God's favor on our lives it changes everything!