Now, what about the “good boy,” what do we do about him? Constantly jumping through hoops for God and man trying to impress them with “good” works. Constantly rising up for the approval of all by saying and doing the good thing, giving the good response. People pleasing, performance oriented, whatever you want to call it. I was compliant to a fault, conflict avoidant, never said a discouraging word to anyone, and the church called me a “blessed peacemaker” and a “faithful servant of God.” They in a way enabled my “false self.” But those badges of honor felt real good, for awhile.
As a “good boy,” I would look to others opinions, praise or criticism to determine how I felt or thought about myself at a particular moment. I gave more weight to the acceptance of others than I did the truth of God. Jesus said in Luke 16:15, “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” I highly valued what other people thought of me, and in this I had become a slave to their opinions of me. My fear of man had become a snare (read Proverbs 29:25). I was trapped and didn’t know how to break free.
I would fish for recognition, always trying to set myself up for a compliment. When someone would take the bait, I would humbly give the Lord all the credit. Jesus nails those of us that love the attention and approval of others. The hammer to drive the nail is found in Matthew 23:5-7, “Everything they do is done for men to see: they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’
I gave other people the power to name me, be it good or bad. My quest for identity became idolatrous. Paul speaks to this in the book of Galatians, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Instead of apprehending God’s call for my life, I let man tell me what I should be doing. I had this unsettled feeling that God had more for my life and that somehow I was missing out. I struggled with feelings that God had passed me over, forgotten about me. The victim in me would think “Everyone else is getting blessed, except me, and O’ how I have labored in vain.” Revival has come and it has passed me by, there was this quiet desperation within me.
Because I was a “good buy” I didn’t know how to share my emotions with honesty and spontaneity. I was all about wearing a mask, keeping up my false pretense, and the playing of roles. The “good boy” hides behind a religious mask. I was too concerned with the opinion of others and I had this nagging concern of what others might think of me if I told the truth about my pain and sin. Denial is a defense I had learned early in my childhood and took with me into my adult life.
Eventually the “good boy” will feel overlooked, taken for granted or unappreciated. He (or she) will become the older brother in the story of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15). Upon his younger brothers return from wild living he gets angry and refuses to go in to a party to celebrate his brothers return. He then says to his father, “I’ve been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.” Do you hear the “good boy” who has done everything to be noticed? Do you see how the “good boy” lives out of a sense of duty? There is no passion to serve the father only a deep sense of duty. This presents the father as demanding and uncaring. The older brother believes that the father’s love must be earned or deserved. There is no room for grace in their relationship. It is a constant life of performance for love and approval. He has no clue that the father deeply loves him. So many men and women I know live with this sense of duty and it prevents them from obtaining this deep assurance that the Father loves them.
Here is what I had to do and it wasn’t easy. I was terrified to be real but it was time to get rid of my fig leaf (Genesis 3:7) and stand “naked and unashamed.” I had to confess, renounce, and repent of my sin of looking to others to complete me. I had to turn from my worship of people’s praise and recognition and humble myself before God again and again when I found myself bending towards them to give me my significance.
Pascal, the great 17th century scientist and philosopher stated, “In every human heart is a God shaped vacuum that only God can fill.” Because of my wrong fear of God, I was trying to fill it with everything but God. In Jeremiah 2:13 it says, “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Instead of turning to God, I tried to dig into the lives of people relationally, emotionally and sexually who had no life to give. The “good boy” in me was trying to get everyone to love me, and to notice me. Jesus said in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” I was starving for love, attention and approval, but instead of going to the One who could heal my father wound and free me from my “good boy” facade, I wandered in the wilderness for a long time.
Separated from the True Vine, we wither up and we die. The false vines of food, pornography, broken relationships, alcohol and drugs, cannot fill the emptiness we feel inside. Learning to abide (notice I said learning; give yourself the grace to learn) in Christ we find deliverance from our pain and grief. So intimacy, life, and healing are found in intimate relationship with Christ. In that union, He takes our pain and provides the healing touch or word that we need. Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” In that place of refuge we find intimacy with Christ and we are blessed.
Question to Consider: So it begs the question, who or what is our refuge? Is it food, television, work, pornography, alcohol, emotionally dependent relationships or the internet? Take some time to identify what it is and then share it with a close friend and ask them to pray for your healing and deliverance from said substance, person, or issue.