We take our validation only to God or we take it nowhere. Anything you give the ability to validate you, you give the ability to invalidate you.
— John Eldredge

We started a 4-day weekend on Thursday with a group of men by having them think about some fundamental questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Who is God?
  • What does he think of me?

Knowing the true answers to these three very simple questions will change the balance of a man’s life.  If every man knew, with a deep kind of heart knowledge of God, that…

  • They are known by Him
  • They are loved by Him
  • There is nothing they could ever do to make Him love them less
  • And that, He has grand intentions for their lives

…the world would be a radically different place.  Families, neighborhoods, churches, companies, and even cities, would transform.  The need for psychiatrists, counselors, mood stabilizers, and every other manner we use to anesthetize that deep sense that we and everything else in the world is not okay, would diminish.  The necessity of so much that we institutionally provide for, would no longer exist.

As a leader, father, husband, and ambassador, I spent years looking to everyone and everything to answer the question as to whether or not I was a man.  I needed someone else and something else to tell me that I was okay.  The weight of every review, raise, approval, and acknowledgement, carried incredible import.  The impossible task of making someone else feel validated is a crushing burden.

Knowing beyond any other truth, that I am known, loved, incapable of losing His love, and that He created me to accomplish grand things for His Kingdom, has changed my life and the way I view everything else in the world around me.  Like Paul, it is “Not that I have already obtained this..” completely, but having better understanding of all that has changed my life…and impacted some of the lives of those around me.

As a boss, father, or husband, how can I possibly affirm, encourage, inspire, challenge, and possibly even discipline others, when I am desperately looking to them and their response to validate me?  How can I fearlessly put forth the grandest dreams, desires, and inspirations God has produced in me, when anything short of wholesale endorsement would bring diminishment?  How can I ever really speak the truth?

It is a paralyzing way to live that renders individual lives and perception of the gospel into a very small, fearful, and uninspired story.  If we look to any source other than God for our validation, we will be invalidated.  You cannot love, encourage, incentivize, or affirm, a spouse, child, or employee enough, to fill a void that only God can fill.  You can temporary requite, but like a bandage on a festering wound, it won’t be enough to fully heal.

A young man approached me this weekend and said he really needed to spend some time on the weekend and thereafter.  He said that he knew I was really busy, but he really wanted to start the hard the hard work to owning responsibility for his life and quit turning to things other than God to anesthetize or blame for his unhappiness.  For that sort of fellow, I’ve got nothing but time.  I may even get less sleep than I do now, but I got nothing but time.

The ripple effect of healthy leaders is staggering.

  • Where do you take your validation question other than God?
  • Are you aware of the power you are giving those people and things?  (Can you see the invalidation there?)
  • Are you ready to quit looking to so many “less wild lovers” and look only to the “lover of our souls” for you validation?