Good Shepherd, MAKE me Lie Down. “I’m an Atta-Boy Addict.”

Only the presence of the Good Shepherd can meet the Four Requirements to MAKE a Sheep Lie Down. Here’s number two:

Because of their social behavior within a flock sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind.

Listen to Timothy Keller:

“When idolatry is mapped onto the future – when our idols are threatened – it leads to paralyzing fear and anxiety. When it is mapped onto the past – when we fail our idols – it leads to irremediable guilt. When idolatry is mapped onto the present life – when our idols are blocked or removed by circumstances – it roils us with anger and despair.”[1]

I’m an atta-boy addict. I demand it from those close to me, early and often. Withhold it and a button gets pushed. “Do you like the faithful service and support I provide around here? Haven’t heard a thank-you lately. Did you not notice?” Now, add in the slightest hint of suggestion or correction, and you just pressed the red nuke button. I escalate into full blown entitled demands. “Why are you so good at catching me do it wrong? A little thanks would go a long way. How about some encouragement? Am I on the inside of this team? I sure feel like the bumbling idiot. Oh, I am so inadequate.”

A cow swats me with a well-aimed tail, knocking my glasses off. I can’t find them. I can’t see. I want to punch something. An unexpected, skillful hind leg kick somehow crushes my forearm between bone and steel. I do punch something. Out fly previously suppressed profanities. Dross arising!

Sometimes, by God’s grace, I hear myself articulating my idea of the good life that’s been denied; partly directed toward those close to me, partly at God. It’s an awareness, a subtle inward shift in my soul. Hot anger shifts to piercing conviction. I feel my need for remedy more than my demand for approval. I own the dross and confess my sin.

Prayer: Father, I want applause, approval, and praise from others. But that enslaves me. At night I toss in bed at snubs, at being ignored. Criticism feels like death. Help me live out of the joy and stability of knowing that I am your child and heir and that in Christ you delight in me. Amen.[2]

Photo Credit: Bighorn Sheep, Cunningham Outdoors, LLC

[1] Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods, pg. 149.

[2] Timothy and Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus, pg. 227.

2 thoughts on “Good Shepherd, MAKE me Lie Down. “I’m an Atta-Boy Addict.”

  1. My boss at work sometimes (not very often) gives an Atta-Boy and it means soooo much. Why do we need it so much to the point of feeling useless without some praise? I try to turn it around and see if I’ve given some uplifting words of encouragement to those around me knowing what it can do to lift someone’s day. I want to pour it out without needing it so much… that’s my goal. Not there yet. God’s patient.

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