All of us have some false beliefs, things we believe to be true, but they are false. These false beliefs can impact us for years. We continue to believe a lie that was planted in our minds by our teachers, parents, friends, or even well-meaning spiritual leaders. Unfortunately, these lies keep us in a cycle of bondage and defeat. The enemy of our souls will use every opportunity to reinforce these lies until he has built a stronghold in our lives. We have already looked at two of these lies, “My relationship with God is dependent on how I perform.”, and “God’s favor must be earned.” Now let’s look at two more common lies we believe. A list of these lies can be found in Chris Thurmond’s book, “The Lies We Believe.”
3. I must have everyone’s approval.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV)
All of us long for love, acceptance, approval, and belonging. It is one of our most basic needs. In our striving for approval, we look to others to affirm our value, our worth, and our acceptance, that sense of belonging. This false belief will drive us to do almost anything to please people and gain their approval. The sad part of this is that we will never be able to do enough to gain everyone’s approval all the time. So, it is an endless cycle of performance-based acceptance. When we look to others for approval, we are looking to the wrong source. Others can never give us the approval we need. Only God can fulfill this longing of our hearts. In Christ, God has already provided all the approval we truly need. We are loved, accepted, forgiven, and approved by our Creator and Redeemer. Only God can meet this need.
4. Because I am a Christian, God will protect me from pain and suffering.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, the I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-12 (ESV)
This false belief is harder to recognize. None of us want to admit that we think this way. Deep down inside we have this false belief that God will keep us from pain and suffering if we are faithful and obedient to Him. It’s our reward for being faithful. The truth is that God often uses pain and suffering to accomplish His will. In this text, the apostle Paul was experiencing a demonic attack. He asked God to remove it and God said, “No.” In essence, God said He allowed it to happen to keep Paul’s pride in check. God often uses pain and suffering to build our character, draw us closer to himself, deepen our capacities for ministry, clarify our values, reveal God’s will, and even to keep our pride in check.
Being a child of God does not inoculate us to pain and suffering. In fact, it may guarantee that we will go through pain and suffering as part of God’s training program. It’s called discipleship.
Pastors, you may be facing some really tough challenges right now. Please know that you are not alone. Care for Pastors exists to help you navigate the unique challenges of pastoral ministry. Reach out to us here.