Pete Wilson on Desire, Idols and Empty Promises
The author of 'Plan B' talks about his new book and what it really means to have 'the good life'.
How else do you explain the people in our culture who have unbelievable success in their line of work – what we’ve determined as ‘the good life’? The good life would be making more money than you know what to do with, being absolutely beautiful according to worldly standards… It doesn’t matter. I thought about this during Whitney Houston’s funeral, and my favorite speaker was Kevin Costner. He said, “The Whitney I knew was still wondering if I’m good enough, am I pretty enough, will they like me?” Again, she had everything. She was rich beyond imagination, but she was still asking all the same questions that everybody is asking. If you try to answer those questions, you’re going to stumble. You’re going to fall on your face, because there’s only one person I believe that can give you all those desires of your heart and that’s our Creator.
One of the things that people struggle with that your address in the book is approval addiction. Again, that’s another one of the things that taps on the door of what we naturally feel. We want people to like us. We want to make friends. How do you know when you have tipped over from wanting community into approval addiction?
It’s a fine line. When I look at my own life, the question I’m always asking is: am I trying to gather my self-worth? I’ve struggle with this a great deal, and honestly approval addiction combined with ministry is a very dangerous cocktail. I remember just a couple of years ago, I had started a church in Kentucky. I stayed there for five years, and it was this wonderful experience. When I left that ministry, my family was very well loved and accepted there. We went back to Nashville and, when I was at this other ministry, I remembered from day one just feeling this overwhelming depression, like, ‘What am I even doing here?’ There was some conflict going on, and I wasn’t near as well liked. No one is picking up the phone to call me to go to lunch. I remember writing in my journal, I want my old life back. I really didn’t think a whole lot about it [until] I was going back through all this stuff, thinking through idols, and thinking through my struggles with approval addiction. I read that journal entry and I thought, I didn’t want my old life back. I wanted my old idols back. I wanted those things that made me feel worthy, and I based my worth on trying to get people to accept, like and love me. Again, the problem with that is there’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t approve of you. You live your life like that, and you’re destined for mediocrity. You’re never going to do anything or say anything, because you’re working so hard to try to make all the people around you happy.