An amazingly high percentage of college freshmen declare
their intentions to go "pre-med" or "pre-law." Obviously, we
cannot discern the motives of any given individual. Some want to
become doctors and lawyers because of their desire to help people.
They want to use their talents to please God and to benefit man.
Others, however, choose these majors because they sound so
impressive. People are awed by the mere mention of those words.
These freshmen savor the reaction they receive: the raising of the
eyebrows, the dropping of the lower jaw. The praise of man becomes
a delicious food they yearn to feed on again.
I Want to Bask in Your Admiration
When it comes time to choose a career, many neglect thoughts
like, "How can I serve God most effectively? What has He designed
me to do? How can I be of greatest benefit to other people?"
Instead their thoughts revolve around the question, "Which career
will make me look good to my friends and family?"
This status seeking is rooted in the fear of man. The fear of
man drives people to vocations which enable them to bask in the
admiration of others. They shy away from vocations frowned upon by
others even though they may be interested in those fields and
well-suited for them. For example, societal disapproval has kept
many out of the ministry and teaching professions.
Ironically, in some Christian circles the desire for approval
drives people into the ministry. Some who declare their intentions
to go into a Christian vocation or onto the mission field are not
motivated by the desire to advance God's kingdom by helping
people. Rather they seek the admiration of other Christians. They
want the pat on the back, the applause of men.
I Love You...You Make Me Look Good
Often people choose to date or marry an attractive person to
increase their status--someone who will decorate their arm.
Many singles feel embarrassed when they reach a certain age and
are still not married. They feel humiliated that others might be
wondering, "What's wrong with her/him?" Panic can set in, setting
the stage for some very poor decision making regarding the choice
of a mate. What freedom and peace come when a person realizes that
God is the only one we have to please. One man testified that
although he didn't marry until he was thirty-eight, his marriage
is so wonderful that he thanks God every day that he waited.
If everybody around you is being carried downstream by the same
current, you may hardly realize the current is influencing you at
all. Such is the case with the fear of man. Its influence is a
powerful current, sweeping multitudes in the wrong direction--away
from the fear of God. What freedom it brings when we turn away
from seeking man's approval to seek God's approval. Liberation
occurs when we choose to die to our reputation and say, "I'm not
going to concern myself with what others think of me because I'm
not living for them anyway. I exist to please God."