rebelling against low expectations

Stop Chasing Cool: the Truth About Our Need for Approval


We all struggle with wanting to be cool.

As young people, we’re caught up in a constant battle against peer pressure, secular culture, a desire to be a ‘cool Christian’, the darkness of the sin-cursed world around us, and the desires of our own sinful flesh. It’s so easy to get slack, to pull back from fully serving the Lord because, after all…who wants to be known as the ‘weird Christian kid’?

If you’re anything like me, you care about what people think of you.

Sure, I may have a façade of unconcern, and in some areas, I’m happy to do what’s right regardless of people’s opinions. But overall, I crave approval, whether that’s from the world for not being ‘too Christian’ or from fellow believers for being a ‘bold Christian.’

In both situations, the need for approval stems from a belief that God isn’t enough, and that our worth is somehow reliant on keeping up a good reputation and self-image.

The need for approval stems from a belief that God isn’t enough, and that our worth is somehow reliant on keeping up a good reputation and self-image. Share on X

We cherish our self-esteem and the admiration of others, and so we often prioritize that temporary comfort over living unreservedly for Christ. But the sad truth is that, when we pull back from living a life that is blatantly Christian, we’re pulling back from the only One Who can give us a truly meaningful existence.

Often, we spend so long searching for spare change in the muddy gutter, that we completely forget to look up to see the soul-shaking splendor of the cathedral ahead of us. We seek our fulfilment in the temporary good things here on earth (such as entertainment, respect from others, friendships, money, a good job, and nice things) and yet forget the One Who created those good things for us to enjoy and utilize for His glory.

Don’t Look Back

In Christ, we have been forgiven, justified, redeemed, adopted, and given eternal life…so why do we keep looking back? Why do we place so much emphasis on living our ‘best lives now’ and making God an ‘add-on’ to our plans when we could spend our whole lives devoted to Him and preparing for eternity? Why are we so easily distracted by the glitter of this world but barely moved when we are reminded that God loves us, that Christ died for us, or that we’ve been made into new creations?

The world is highly skilled at the art of intrigue and novelty: Satan knows how to take the same old lies, cleverly polish them up, and then sell them to us again as a new and exciting idea. He rebrands ‘selfishness’ as ‘self-love’, ‘pride’ as ‘understanding your self-worth’, and ‘idolatry’ and ‘lust’ as ‘enjoying life’. He’ll do anything to get us distracted and off-track because an apathetic Christian doesn’t pose as much of a threat as a Christian who is devoted to serving Christ.

So don’t look back; keep focused on serving Christ, no matter the consequences. As you focus more on the unfathomable depths of God’s character, you’ll see how shallow the world really is.

Stop Chasing Cool

It’s so much easier to get focused on the tangible things of this world than it is to stay focused on the unseen realities of eternity, but only one of these options lasts forever. We have to choose which side we’re willing to stand for.

As Rebelutionaries, we’re not here to be apathetic; we’re here to fight for truth, and to live every day wholeheartedly serving Christ, even if it costs us.

As J. C. Ryle wrote, “True Christianity will cost a man the favor of the world. He must be content to be thought ill of by man if he pleases God. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted, and even hated.”

As we live out life to the fullest, as we enjoy the good things here on earth, we need to faithfully live for God rather than trying to preserve our coolness in the eyes of others.

“A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian” (D. L. Moody). Jesus saved us, and we should be unashamed of living in a way that proves it.

As we live a life that seeks Christ over comfort, we will notice our appetite for temporary things and worldly approval fading. The more we seek the approval of our Savior, the less we feel the need for the approval of others. Share on X

As we live a life that seeks Christ over comfort, we will start to notice our appetite for temporary things and worldly approval fading. The more we seek the approval of our Savior, the less we feel the need for the approval of others.

Is God Enough?

If “God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son for us” (John 3:16, ESV, paraphrased), why do we so often live our lives trying to earn the admiration of the world? Isn’t God enough? At the heart of the issue, it all comes back to whether we believe He is.

If God isn’t enough, then we shouldn’t risk our reputations and comfort to serve Him; but if He is enough, then no loss we suffer for His sake will be greater than what has been given us in Christ. We will never lose out on life when we put God’s glory in the forefront.

We’re here to live fully for Christ, to ‘do hard things’ for Him; and there’s no better time to start than right now. As Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Everything here fades over time; we can’t keep our money, our friends, our dreams, or others’ respect forever. But whatever situation we find ourselves in, there are a few things we can never lose: our salvation, the love of Christ, or our purpose in life –to glorify God where He puts us. Whether that’s by prioritizing sharing the gospel over remaining in the ‘cool group’, by being more overtly Christian rather than trying to keep it toned down, by being willing to forgive as you have been forgiven, or by prioritizing the local church over earning extra money, that witness for Christ will never be wasted.

Do the hard thing. Rebel against the culture of Christianized apathy. And wholeheartedly live for the glory of God:

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” -Colossians 2:6-7, ESV

God is enough; are you willing to live like that’s true?

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About the author

Holly Baines

is a writer/blogger from New Zealand. As an aspiring journalist and born-again Christian, she seeks to challenge people's ideas, actions, preconceptions, and beliefs with the truth. Holly loves composing music, reading great books, writing articles, editing (yep weirdo), studying doctrine, and hanging out with friends and family. She is the second oldest of 9 kids, British (and therefore totally doesn't understand sarcasm), and a proud P. K. (pastor's kid). Subscribe to her blog


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  • This is really encouraging – it’s so freeing to be reminded that we don’t have to worry about what other people think about us, only what God thinks about us.

  • Oof- convicting! I’m not trying to be a “cool kid” at school but I’m definitely a little too comfortable.
    Galations 1:10

    • Yeah, it’s so easy to get comfortable blending in and letting down our guard a little bit: I struggle with that lots! So glad it’s not because of our effort but because of God working in us (Phil 1:13) that makes it so we can focus on Him instead of on ourselves! Great verse, very convicting.

  • Hello Holly,
    Thank you for your message. Even as a homeschooler (I’m not around the same type of peer pressure that public schooled students experience) , I have found it easy to want to fit into a certain group of people, and I always dream of myself when I’m older, and how I’ll be able to be more like a “normal” person. haha. (I realize this is so silly. )
    There are some Jr high guys at my church group who have asked questions about peer pressure during group discussions, and though I’m not a guy, my heart reached out to them because we’ve all been there. I want to be able to encourage them but to be honest it feels a bit weird to go up to Jr high boys as a sophomore girl and talking to them about peer pressure lol (i think one of them had a bit of a crush on me which makes it more awkward!)
    So, I’ve decided praying for them would be the best thing for now. Peer pressure is so hard when you are experiencing it, but then you look back and realize, hey, that was all so superficial…. and God is so much better than following the world’s culture!

    • Hey Meg,

      No worries, thank you for reading it!
      Yeah, I totally get that about having peer pressure even as a homeschooler. I was actually homeschooled too, and it’s really tough when there seems to only be two groups: the ‘weird’ homeschoolers and the ‘cool-but-wordly’ homeschoolers! Thankfully that’s not true though, and there are plenty of awesome homeschoolers who are passionate about Christ: the difference is our priority is obeying God, so that will put us at odds with culture sometimes. But at the end of the day, following Christ is the best thing because trying to be cool ends up just being shallow and empty after a while.

      So good on you for recognising that and pushing forward to serve Christ wholeheartedly. Just take it one day at a time! It’s not silly…well I guess it kinda is, but I’m talking to myself too cause I have (and still do) struggle with this. Keeping it under control, balanced, and surrendered to God is the main thing. It’s a constant battle to keep our minds under control, isn’t it?

      Yeah I think praying for them sounds like a great first start, and it’s better to be cautious than jump in too quickly. But maybe if they talk about it in a group discussion again, you can jump in or try and raise the topic when you guys happen to be in the same group? At the end of the day, it is an encouragement to know others struggle with peer pressure and to have that accountability with others, so I’m sure that the right opportunity will come up if God thinks it’s best!

    • Wow, same! I am also a homeschooler, and I also struggle with seeking approval, though mostly within the church, since church and youth group are my worlds. I am also an MK (missionary kid) and I live in the Dominican Republic where I am immediately weird and cool at the same time because I’m from the US. I’m used to being the center of attention, so it is hard for me when I’m not. I’ve been trying to stop putting my worth in the compliments of others. To all reading this, NEVER GIVE UP!!!! Putting God at the center is worth it all.

By Holly Baines
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →