Healthy Faith
May 4, 2022

From Worldly Applause To Divine Approval: Breaking Free From The Chains Of External Validation

Brett Snodgrass and Michael Stansbury discuss how men can break free from other’s approval. Explore shifting from external validation to divine purpose.

Seeking approval from the world may satisfy the moment, but finding it in the audience of One fuels a lifetime of purpose. Join your hosts Brett Snodgrass and Michael Stansbury as they discuss how men can break free from others’ approval. In a society where external validation often takes center stage, this dynamic duo takes on the challenge of dissecting the reasons behind our craving for approval and who we should be really seeking it from. They share personal stories on how societal pressures, social media, and even family dynamics can shape our pursuit of approval. Brett and Michael then discuss the contrast between seeking approval from the world and finding solace in the One being whose approval really matters. Join us in learning how to break free from the shackles of external validation and live life with a more eternal perspective.

From Worldly Applause To Divine Approval: Breaking Free From The Chains Of External Validation

What's going on? I am here with another episode of the show. I got Michael Stansbury as a co-host on the episode with me again. We're seeing a lot of each other. I like it.

It’s great. It’s good to be here.

Amen. We did an episode on Men and the Fear of Failure. That was a great episode. If you haven't checked that one out, go read it. It is how men have this secret desperation that sometimes they live with. I talked about the quote from Mr. Thoreau in the 1800s. He talked about how men sometimes lead this life of quiet desperation. A lot of times, it's because they have this fear of failure, and then what do we do about it? Make sure you go read that particular episode. It's a good one.

We're talking about another topic. It stems from this book that was launched. I wrote my very first book. It's an Iron Deep-published book called The Secret War Within. It's about a gentleman, a very successful guy, named Nolan Banks. He's facing some different things in his life, some different struggles and challenges. He has this secret that no one knows about that he's struggling with.

In this episode, we're going to talk about one of the secrets that men struggle with. That's this addiction of approval or the need for approval, and what do we do about that? It goes back to what's our driver? I know for my own personal life, most of the time, maybe I want to reach a certain goal or reach a certain success, not even for my own personal life, but it's because I want people to think good things about me. I want people to think that I'm great or to glorify me. A lot of it is driven by the approval of other people.

It goes back to the past episode in which we talked about the fear of failure. Many times, people fear failure so much because they want the approval of other people. They're always thinking, “If I fail, what are people going to think about me? What are they going to think about me if I bomb the business world? I've propped myself up as successful. I've done some episodes now and social media stuff. What if I bomb and things crumble? What are they going to think about me?” That's what we're going to talk about in this episode. What are your few words on this topic?

It’s what we all struggle with. Every man wants the approval. It's who are we seeking that approval from? Why are we seeking that approval? It's interesting how the approval of somebody can make or break your day, make or break your week, or send you into a tailspin if you don't get it. As a young kid, you always want the approval of your parents, especially your father. As you grow older, how does that change? You're still hardwired for that, so how do we navigate that?

Who are we seeking approval from? What does scripture say about us? How do we get right with God? What does approval from God look like? What is that about? How should we put that on the scales about our approval as a man? I love this topic because Brett and I are like you who’s reading. We struggle with this. We're trying to adjudicate how we live a life that we seek our approval from the right place. That's what we're trying to do.

That's really what it is. We all need some sort of approval, but where are we seeking it from? Sometimes, I've mentioned the audience of one. If you had the audience of one where it is our Father in Heaven and that was your audience and the approval that you were seeking, then that's where it all starts. I'm going to start off with a quick parable, very summarized by one of my favorite books that really helped transform certain directions of my life with the true measure of a man. Richard E. Simmons III wrote the foreword in the new book, The Secret War Within. He is a respected man. He runs a ministry for men in Alabama called Executive Leadership, a men’s ministry down in Alabama.

IDP 27 | Approval
The True Measure of a Man: How Perception of Success, Achievement & Recognition Fail Men in Difficult Times

He wrote this book, The True Measure of a Man. It starts off with this parable about a man. He's building a boat, and his boat is called the Persona. It goes into the details that he wanted to fixate upon this boat. He wanted to be the grandest boat in the whole community so he spent so much time and detail on building out this boat with the teak wood, flags, poles, and all the stuff that went on with this boat. He wanted to be the grandest, most talked about boat. He dreamed of the applause that when this boat was launched into the sea, everyone would cheer him on, that he would have the biggest celebration, and it would be the best boat that they had ever seen.

The one thing he didn't think about was what was under the boat because no one saw what was underneath the waterline. He didn't fixate on it or didn't focus on the rudders or some of the operations of the boat, making sure that it was sea-worthy. He only focused on the things that were above the waterline because that's what people saw.

The story goes on. He gets the amazing applause. People talk about him and how grand the boat is. He goes out to sea. There was this little storm that capsized the boat and he was lost at sea. He ended up dying. An angel came and said, “What a foolish life this man lived that he would only focus on what was above the waterline and not underneath the waterline.”

This really hit me. It probably goes with The Secret War Within that most of us are focused on the exterior, the perception, or what people can see with us. Social media is a big play there. We never put on really what's going on sometimes in our inner life and our inner hearts. We are focused tremendously on the exterior of our life.

It’s the same thing with building businesses. We're trying to accumulate wealth. We're trying to accumulate success, buy things, go on nice vacations, and do a lot of exterior things. Many men don't ever focus on what's going on the inside. They never even pause and think, “What’s really going on with my heart?” They're only focused on the exterior. I want to kick that story off. It’s a great book there. Michael, I gave you this book a few years ago. This book goes into a lot more detail about men's addiction for approval. Give your take on it.

I have grown up in the last couple of years and have seen the rise of social media. One of the things about building a business in this time, too, is more people get to have eyeballs on what you're doing. As you're building a business, I saw this happen with me in my business because I figured, “This is marketing. This is getting eyeballs on what we're trying to do. There are certain benefits to it, but what was I portraying? What's the real reason why I'm making this post or doing this? Is this for approval or applause or is this for marketing benefits? Is it both?”

I know the answer to it. Especially when it comes to social media, I feel like the guy on the boat because he's waiting to get it out of the shipyard so everybody can see it and check, “How many comments did that make? How many likes did I have?” One of the things about parenting during this time of approval or applause in our culture is these kids are motivated by it. They are unbelievably motivated by it because this is all they know. We've had to grow up and try and navigate our kids through this applause or this approval of the outside world.

My wife got a call. She was like, “Mom, make sure you like my Instagram post. It's not getting that many likes on it.” I thought, “Okay.” She was like, “Tell Dad to do this thing.” I was like, “Okay.” This is something that has been part of our culture forever, but this time, it's really focused on it because we're all on these devices and social media. How do we navigate it? What's the proper context for it? It's still something that I struggle with.

Who we are trying to get the approval from is the answer that we have to meditate on. How do you mitigate that or how do you turn it around? My answer to that would be is there are men out there, people out there, and other business owners that are seeking this out or seeking approval and applause. It may be not for the right reasons, but there are some people that you know in your life that you need to approve of. You need to take the time to call them up and say, “I want to let you know that this is something I saw you did. That’s awesome. I want to tell you that I noticed this about you. I want to tell you that I noticed it, and it's awesome. I love seeing you do that. It makes me happy to see you in your genius zone.”

Specifically for you parents out there or you dads out there running businesses as well as your husbands and fathers, it is very easy to get into the monotonous day-to-day of seeking approval and getting it from the outside world, and then coming home and forgetting that there are these other human beings in your life that are wired the same way, too. If they want the approval, they want your time. They want you to notice them.

IDP 27 | Approval
Approval: There are these other human beings in your life that are wired the same way. If they want approval, they want your time. They want you to notice them.

It's not easy to get into the mindset after you come home from work or after you're doing a bunch of stuff to get in the mode of, “The work's not done. It's not time to necessarily chill out.” It's time to notice some things that your wife is doing. Maybe she's leading a Bible study, doing something for the church, or helping out a girlfriend who's sick. She does that all the time. She may do that a lot. She may do whatever, but do you notice that? Do you tell her how awesome that is?

I don't know if motivate is the right word, but do you encourage it like, “What do you need? Is there anything I can do to help you?” There are your kids as well. The antidote to this is two-pronged. It is, “Are we seeking approval from God? Who are we encouraging? What words of affirmation are we directing it toward in our lives?” I gave you the family mode, but there are other business owners and other men that need it.

I agree. We're not saying that this is such a negative thing. There's a healthy way to approach this, and then there's an unhealthy way. You talked about the family. Because we’re so familiar with the family, they’re so close to us, and our wives are so close, we sometimes take it for granted. Our kids, maybe they did something wrong or they talked back. We're quick to correct that. We're quick to get on them about that. We don't encourage it. We’re like, “They did that. I'm not going to encourage them.” It's so important to continue to be intentional about giving out that encouragement.

IDP 27 | Approval
Approval: There's a healthy way to approach this and then there's an unhealthy way.

We're getting ready to do an event at Iron Deep. It's diving into how can we, as men, be more relational and go deeper relational, which is more difficult for us men than transactional. Transactional becomes a lot easier. Transactional means, “I'm going to talk to you because you benefit me because you're my client. I'm going to give you a gift because you make me money. I'm going to,” whatever for your employee, “Because you work for me.” You can do the same thing with your family where spouses become roommates. It's very transactional.

How can we become more relational? One of the ways is to give your family approval. That's a very healthy way. Don't wait for you to get it because a lot of times, we're so self-consumed. You’re like, “I'm going to give approval,” to your wife, and then you’re like, “Now, give it back.” If they don't, you're like, “I told you you were beautiful. Where’s mine?” A lot of times, we give it because we want to receive it. That's our home.

It is true. We have to check ourselves. That trap is easy to fall into. The genuineness of noticing something without, “I need to scratch my back, too.” When you can get there and genuinely start noticing people and also take this next step to say, “I noticed this,” is the genuine article and not wanting anything back from it.

As I get older and I want to get more mature in the world, I really want to understand why we do the things that we do. We go back to the Old Testament and the law or the commandments, which is, “Do not covet.” With business owners, when we see other people doing well and we see them get approval from the world, we want that too. The Sunday school teaching for my ninth grader is like, “What do you guys think coveting means?” The Sunday school answer for the kids was, “So-and-so's dad got this super cool Ford Bronco. My dad's been driving this Ford F-150. It's a 2005. I don't understand why we can't have that.” I was like, “You nailed it.”

That was good. I love that. That reminds me of my daughter. We live in a pretty nice area where her friends have certain financial things. She was talking about how she went shopping with a friend. It's interesting because she spent about $50. My daughter spent about $50 and her friend spent $250. I gave her $50. She's like, “How come you can't give me $250? She gets whatever she wants.” It went further than that. She was like, “Her grandparents gave her all this money.” You could tell that she was envious and jealous of that. My thing is, “Would that help you in the future?” She doesn't understand that exactly now if I were to do that.

We can get into that trap. It goes back to healthy approval versus unhealthy approval. It goes back even to the last episode. What are your habits? What if we could truly live with the approval of one, the approval of Christ, our Father in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit? What if we could dig in and our habits were based upon that? Our sole goal was, “Am I pleasing you?”

I've been in seasons of that when my habits and rhythms were super close. My relationship with the Lord was super close. People were coming at me and insulting me and things like that. It didn't shake me or crack me because I'm like, “I'm making this decision because this is really what the Lord wants me to do. This is what I'm called to do. Whatever you think, honestly, it doesn't matter.” What if we can truly live like that? That's where we want to get to. Building that wisdom, increasing our faith, and building those habits comes down to that. What's your take on living with the audience of one?

It comes down to the time. When the external things get heavy and they start weighing in on time and creep into maybe the habits that you're having, when a life event happens and maybe it disrupts you and you're not prepared for it, you have to recognize those things that disrupt the audience of one. How do you manage that? It goes back to your faith.

How you get an increased amount of faith is you've got to recognize that even though all these external things are happening, you have to look back at the life of Christ. He should be the focus on how to live. He gave us the model that even in the storms of life, He got away to spend time with the Father. The antithesis is that you're spending time in the culture of the world. If you don't have that time under tension with the Father, and this is a good tension, then you'll spend time under tension of the world. You will be moved in that direction and seek the things that the world wants.

This is a battle that every man faces and every Christian faces. We talked about this in Iron Deep. We have these mountaintop experiences, but how do we bring them home? How do we get what we get if we're 2 or 3 days in Macon, Georgia or in Utah? You have to cultivate that in your life with the audience of the Father, of God.

One of the things that you and I try and do here is like, “Let’s be authentic and be real.” There are some days that we do get tripped up and we start the day off not on the right foot. I'll get up a little bit later than I supposed to and I go straight into work mode. I'll hear my wife and she's listening to worship music. I'll be like, “We’re getting back to that.” To put this back to where you need to go, you have to cultivate that time with the Father, especially in the storms of life.

I used to love listening to music in the car when I was driving long distances. I still love to listen to some good rock every now and then, but I'm 48 years old. You do start measuring time differently as you get older. What is the best use of my time when I'm all alone? Those are the things that I would cultivate in your life to seek the approval of God. How do we seek the approval of God? He wants you. He wants you to come to Him with your sin, repent it, and spend time fellowshiping with Him and worshipping Him. That's how we can get back to where we're supposed to be. Does that make sense?

Yeah. Amen. This goes back to one of the reasons why we started Iron Deep is you get around other men to celebrate you. Many times, we don't celebrate other people. We don't get celebrated either. People honestly want us to fail because they want themselves to be raised up. If you fail, then they might feel better about themselves. Honestly, that's the human nature. The wicked heart is when we see people getting raised up and we’re like, “I wish they wouldn't do so well.”

IDP 27 | Approval
The Secret War Within

This show really is about who your audience is and whether you are in the world and in the Kingdom. If you walk away with those things, is the world your audience? Are you trying to prop yourself up so you get approval from other people, the world, the Kingdom, the audience of one, and other men in your circle, that tight-knit circle? There might only be one other person who truly does want you to succeed and truly wants to celebrate you for who you are no matter what you do for them. That's the thing.

We talked about the desires of our hearts. The world's going to play on those desires. I talked to you before this show why social media is so big. They found out that everyone wanted approval. Everyone can get extremely addicted to approval. That's what they do. That's why they've created a system to measure the approval of other people in a way. That's why social media is worth billions of dollars. It’s because of that.

What do we do? We talked about developing those habits, getting alone with the Lord, having an audience of one, but then also giving that out. After this episode, be intentional. What are you going to do to encourage someone? Who are you going to reach out to? Start with your family. I've talked about this before, but I do some camps with my kids. A lot of times, with our kids even, we say, “I'm proud of you because of this. You made the dance team or you got an A on your paper, or you memorized your Bible verses.”

What if you said, “I'm really proud of you because you're my son and my daughter. I don't expect you to be anything else than that. I'm going to love you and be proud of you anyway because of that.” I started to learn that. I don't do that the best all the time. What if we could say, “I'm proud of you and I love you because,” and there are no accomplishments and no achievements at the end of that? That's another habit that I've tried to implement into our culture.

As we wrap up this show, hopefully, you guys got something out of this, a golden nugget that you can take home and do right away. That's what this show is about. What action steps are we going to take? Here's something that men struggle with. What's one small little piece that you can take home and do right away? Michael, as we wrap up the show, give your last feedback.

That's great stuff. Seek approval from the one who gives it out freely all day every day, and that's the Lord Jesus. I am excited to see what's next on the show, too.

That sounds good. I know this has been launched, but if you haven't ordered the book, The Secret War Within, I would appreciate you guys doing that. It’s not that I need your approval of it, but this could help you in a big way. I've got some great feedback on that. Go check out We're developing a community of men who are business leaders in the Christian faith. This is what we're doing here, talking about some of these topics and sharpening each other in a deeper way. Thank you so much. Check out Thanks for being on the show.

Thank you.

We'll see you guys soon.

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