Seeking Horizontal Approval
Tags: approval, Christian living, connections, family, friends, God, people, prayer, social networks, technology
Today’s society wallows in sexual innuendo (did you see some of the Super Bowl ads??), so some would read the title of this blog and let their minds wander to the bedroom (or a parked car, or a bathroom stall, wherever). But that’s not what this is about. Sorry, but there’s nothing racy here.
Recently, I’ve heard the terms horizontal and vertical approval used on occasion. I understand the concept of seeking approval either from those around me (horizontal) or from above (vertical), but I didn’t analyze the small aspects of my life in regards to the distinction. Until now.
I know many aspects of my life probably reflect my need for horizontal approval. Not always because I thrive on the approval itself but because sometimes it’s easier than seeking the vertical type. But there’s one area of my life that really needs a change.
What I’m referring to is my “connectedness” to other people. Nowadays, it’s so simple to stay connected. I remember while growing up, sitting on the hard, dining room chair next to the built-in desk between the kitchen and dining room, winding the phone cord around my fingers while I chatted with whoever happened to be on the other end. If I wasn’t near the phone or in the house, I simply wasn’t connected.
That was it. No email, no iPhones, no tablets, no Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat. How did we ever survive?
Sometimes I long to be unconnected again, but I fear I’m addicted to it. Living far from family is a great excuse to be active in online communities and social networks. Texting is a fast, efficient way to keep tabs on Autumn or keep in touch with Mark, friends, and co-workers. Reading blogs and articles increases my knowledge and awareness.
But is it too much? Does it waste valuable time? When I consider my connectedness based on seeking approval, I think so. Here are just a few of my many habits…
When I’m in my classrrom, I check email every time I sit down at my desk.
Rarely a day passes when I don’t read the news feed in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Frequently (very frequently), I send texts just to find out what other people are doing.
I receive over one hundred blogs and articles in my inbox and/or RSS feed every week.
Each of those isn’t bad in and of itself. But when I think in terms of seeking approval, God plays little if any part in those actions. Do I check professional email frequently so I can answer immediately and the recipient might view me as prompt and on-the-ball? When I send a text to see what others are doing, am I overly concerned with their life instead of focusing on mine? Do I check the social networks (and post status updates on them) to feel an inflated sense of belonging?
What might happen if I dedicated a small amount of this time to gain some vertical approval? Could I eliminate a few email checks or Facebook scrolls and instead read a devotion? Say a prayer? Think of a way to help someone? My relationship with God would certainly flourish. My spiritual walk would follow a straighter path. My need to feel approval from others would diminish as I absorbed the approval from the One who matters most.
Awareness is the first step, and now that I acknowledge my problem, it’s an easy fix, right?
Sure it is. Now guess how many times I checked email while typing this.