What’s Your Approval Ratings?


Are you Seeking Approval?

If so, whose approval do you crave?

Have you ever felt you needed to prove yourself?

How far would you go to prove yourself to others? To what lengths would you be prepared to go?



To Prove is to demonstrate the truth or existence of something by evidence or argument. To show beyond a shadow of a doubt something to be true. To submit proof or evidence and show that something is genuine and to find out by experience. That way you test the validity of something to make sure it’s not just too good to be true…

The word ‘Prove’ is used by bakers- proofing is the final rise of shaped bread dough before baking. It refers to a specific rest period within the more generalised process known as fermentation. We must allow the dough time to rise

Have you been approved?



‘First of all, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. And indeed, there must be differences among you to show which of you are approved’ (1 Cor 11:18-19)

Divisions often occur as teams and communities come together. One only has to watch reality programmes such as The Apprentice to see the infighting that occurs as candidates try to prove themselves and win approval from others in the process. It is indeed true that the differences among people show which ones are truly approved and which ones are not…


‘When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them’ (2 Corinthians 10:18)

So how do we separate the ‘men from the boys’ – who really is the best? Who deserves to get top marks?

What have you got to prove?


To prove yourself means to show a particular result after a period of time: to show that you are good at something. You may have heard the phrase, ‘I wish she’d stop trying to prove herself all the time’

But is it wrong to try to prove yourself or not?

The apostle Paul, one of the most well-known figures in history lets us in on the secret of HOW TO GAIN APPROVAL…he says,

‘We live in such a way that no-one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry’ and then proceeds in outlining the things that show that he and his team are indeed approved…

he goes on to say:

In Everything We Do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind, we’ve been…


Put in prison,

faced angry mobs,

worked to exhaustion,

endured sleepless nights, (watchings)

gone without food, (fastings)

Notice the 6 exceedingly tough situations the apostle Paul said he and his team had gone through…


He goes on to say, We Prove Ourselves By Our:





By the Holy Spirit within us (by our holiness of spirit)

and by our Sincere Love

We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness (right living) in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defence


He says…WE SERVE GOD whether: (we serve God regardless of these 10 factors:)

-People Honour us or Despise us

-Slander us or Praise us

-We are Honest, but they call us Imposters

-We are Ignored, even though we are Well-Known

-We live Close to Death, but we are Still Alive

-We have been Beaten, but we have not been Killed

-Our Hearts Ache, but we always have Joy

-We are Poor, but we give Spiritual Riches to Others

-We own Nothing, and yet have Everything

-We have Spoken Honestly With You, our hearts are open to you. There is no lack of love from us, but you have withheld your love from us

Our desire first and foremost is to PLEASE GOD

Imagine having people on a team who served God regardless of the 10 factors above!



Notice the three-pronged approval ratings Paul and his team received:

OUT- ‘we show we are true ministers by’…(so they are growing in hope)

IN- ‘we prove ourselves by our…’ (so they are growing in love)

UP– ‘we serve God wether’…(so they are growing in faith)

This Pioneer Team are growing in these 3 Virtues in ways that would seem extreme to the casual bystander. After all they were an elite team of Pioneers breaking new ground in Pioneer Mission and Planting Movements amongst non-religious people everywhere…



When tempted to prove ourselves humanly speaking, we may strive to work harder and harder to get the attention or affirmation of others. If we constantly seek the approval of others we will try everything we can to please people…

Perhaps we have a skewed view of God, instead of seeing him as Father and out of that relationship doing what pleases him, we resort instead to doing religious things we think might please him out of duty or ritual. But of course, none of those things actually win his approval. It’s an adventure in missing the point…

‘It was by faith the men of old gained approval’ (Heb 11:2)

Jesus, the son of God, was described as ‘a man approved by God through signs and wonders (Acts 2:22). That’s an interesting benchmark of approval if ever there was one!

Paul, the apostle, says this regarding the work of his team; ‘For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else’ (1 These 2:4-6)

That’s a high bar, perhaps we need to RAISE THE STANDARD accordingly…



In yet another place in scripture, Paul says; ‘Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant’. What amazes me is that Paul says the word obviously…it must have been so obvious to others that Paul didn’t live to please people. What’s so unusual about this is that in much of life, most people actually DO live to please others!

As someone who lived an approved life as opposed to a pleasing people life, the apostle Paul was able to say to this to his apprentice and true spiritual son Timothy;

‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handle the word of truth’

It seems that Timothy actually took Paul’s advice and did indeed prove himself as in another place we read this;

‘But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News’ (Philippians 2:22)

I want to offer the same advice here…now you know what it takes to be approved

Do Your Best To Present Yourself to God as One Approved…


[Material from forthcoming full Pioneer Mission book. To see more on Pioneer Mission in the meantime- check out our short group guide HERE]


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie Ray November 27, 2017 at 10:28 am

Very helpful – food for thought and prayer as always.
Could you just explain:
[Material from forthcoming Pioneer Mission book. To see more on Pioneer Mission in the meantime- check out our short group guide HERE]?
Thanks 🙂


Peter J. Farmer November 27, 2017 at 10:33 am

Thanks Mel!
We have a Pioneer Mission short team/group guide
This was written back in 2011 and was meant as a starter- just to get people started in the Pioneer Mission process (Luke 10/Matt 10) in a very practical way

But we aim to produce a full edition Pioneer Mission book in the (hopefully) near future…
This will include over 15 years experience in Pioneer Mission in a UK and Europe context, more in depth study of scripture and historical precedent and stories from the work…

I’m praying for help to get this material together (mainly ghost writing, dictation and editing work actually as the material is all there in notebooks, documents and past blog posts)


Claire Ellis December 23, 2017 at 1:05 am

Id like to help to get this material together Peter.
Im really interested inhearing more about your experience in pioneer mission.


Peter J. Farmer December 29, 2017 at 9:02 am

Hi Claire! Thanks, it would be great to receive your help in putting together the Pioneer Mission material/book etc. How can we do that? What do you suggest?


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: