The Goal of Life is Not to Be Liked

Here is an edited version of something I wrote on a previous blog.

Pop culture author extraordinaire, Chuck Klosterman, identifies our relentless desire to be “liked”:

“…being likable is the only thing that seems to matter to anyone. You see this everywhere. Parents don’t act like parents anymore, because they mainly want their kids to like them; they want their kids to see them as their two best friends. This is why modern kids act like animals. At some point, people confused being liked with being good. Those two qualities are not the same. It’s important to be a good person; it’s not important to be a well-liked person.” IV, 275

To make your personal mission being liked by everyone in the world sets you up for a life of frustration and depression. You will end up living your life based upon others expectations and your discernment on what is right and wrong will fly out the window as the litmus test of everything becomes what will and will not make this or that person happy.

The goal of life is not be liked.

The compulsion to be liked by anyone is actually the fear of man. Your sinful desire for likability is actually a revelation of your own fear. Humans were only made to fear one person–God. And when your value becomes defined by what other people think of you, you will not be “a good person” nor a “godly person”, but a narcissistic person who needs the praise of others for self-fulfillment. This will always disappoint.

Fearing God is what you were made for. His opinion of you is the only thing that matters and fulfills, and God’s good news for our culture is that his value-system does not fluctuate on your likability. Because he does not like–he loves. And the measure of his love is seen in the crucifixion of his Son for unlikable, no, rather, hell-deserving sinners.

The love of God on display here is not the like of God. God did not die to affirm you, but to save you. His love is never based on your good actions, but always based on the perfect work of Jesus. For those who trust Christ, God’s likeness of you never fluctuates because it is never mere likeness but is wrapped up in his eternal love for his own Son, Jesus.

God loves you with Jesus-sized love. Knowing and experiencing this love is human wholeness and brings radical freedom. It frees you from the desire to be liked, and imparts the experience of being loved by the Creator of the universe forever. It’s not that important to be well liked, but it is eternally important to be in the favor of God.

I doubt Klosterman would agree with my Christian perspective here, but it is the only ultimately satisfying remedy to the cultural problem that he sees. People act like animals not just because their not liked, but because as sinful human beings created in the image of God they have traded the glory of God for the idolatry of likability.

9 Reasons to Affirm Others

Sam Crabtree’s book, Practicing Affirmation, gives 9 reasons one should affirm others:

Affirmation is a way to bring life and healing to those around you.

1. Affirming others earns us the right standing from which to make suggestions. (p. 71)

2. Affirmation lifts morale. (p. 71)

3. Affirmation energizes people. (p. 72)

4. Affirmation of others makes us easier to live with. (p. 72)

5. Striving to affirm others puts us in the practice of looking at them positively–that is, looking for evidence of God’s work in them. (p. 73)

6. Affirmation constructively uses time that could have been wasted complaining. (p. 73)

7. By commending Christlike qualities, and celebrating them when we spot them, affirmation showcases the character of God, giving him honor for being the kind of God he is. (p. 74)

8. Behaviors that are rewarded and celebrated are more likely to be repeated. (p. 74)

9. When we commend God’s image in people, God is glorified, and that’s why we were made–to glorify God. (p. 75)

Life and death is in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). The tongue can be used either as a weapon or as an instrument of healing: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18). Affirmation is a way to bring life and healing to those around you.

Do it. A lot.

I need to grow in this area. Big time.