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From One Fool to Another

I’m writing this on April Fools’ Day, the day kids (and, yes, sometimes adults) pull pranks on each other and yell out, “April Fool!” I’ve been pranked many a time in my day, and I’ve done my fair share of pranking others as well.

One of the best pranks I’ve heard recently came from my assistant, Sandy, who told me that a friend of hers received a prank lottery ticket. It looked authentic enough and she matched the right numbers for a $5,000 prize. Sandy’s friend was so excited that she jumped up and down screaming, “I won! I won!” Even when her family told her it was a prank, she didn’t believe them and kept screaming with excitement.

The story gets better. One of the pranksters videoed the reaction and sent it into America’s Funniest Videos, and it was actually selected as a finalist for an upcoming episode to be aired this coming weekend. Since Sandy’s friend signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding the outcome of the show, let’s just say, the woman had the last laugh winning an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the entire family and receiving one of the top 3 monetary prizes. Not a bad prank.

I used to be bothered by being on the receiving end of an April Fools’ Day joke. I mean, be real, who likes to be called a fool in April or any other month for that matter? I wanted to be perceived as wise, intelligent, confident, self-assured. My identity was wrapped up in the high opinions of others and being called a fool was moving the opinion needle in the opposite direction.

The older I get, though, the more I accept that I’m almost never the smartest person in the room, or the most gifted, or the most attractive, or the most _______ (you fill in the blank). And when I say, “Almost never,” I really mean, “If I’m alone in a room with my dog, Conner, then I might be the smartest person in the room. Maybe.”

You get the point.

The reason I’m not bothered much anymore if someone calls me a fool (or worse) is because I’m finally getting it through my thick skull that my identity is not defined by someone’s opinion of me. My identity is defined by the One who created me, and He calls me His child. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

You can act foolish, look foolish, or say something foolish, and people might think you’re a fool. But your actions, looks, and speech don’t determine your identity. Yes, they can reveal your heart: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. . . . . You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 12:34; 7:16 ESV). But your name—what you are called—originates with the One who gave you life. He who made you names you.

Like the Apostle Paul, you may be called a “fool for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10, ESV), or you may just be called an April Fool, but either way, from one fool to another, give thanks that God’s foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 1:25). No foolin’.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

My Name is Rick Grover, and I Am an Approval Addict

When I look back over my years of ministry, I recognize that many of my aspirations, desires, and longings had the appearance of Kingdom advancement, but underneath lay hidden the desire of personal advancement. I have sought the approval of others far more than the approval of God.

Hi. My name is Rick Grover, and I am an approval addict. There. I said it.

When did I first discover I had a problem? When I realized I spent far more time wondering what people thought of me as a preacher than Jesus as the Savior. Did they like my sermon? Are they happy with my leadership? Were they receptive to my teaching in class?

The way out of a problem is first to accept there is a problem. I’ve known about my struggle for years, and I have made many mid-course corrections. But like the cat with nine lives, the approval seeker seems to keep appearing.

Are you afflicted with the malady of “me-centrism” as well? You might not look in a mirror and ponder who is the fairest of them all, but how many times do you check your Facebook feed to see if you’re tagged or to count your number of “friends”? How many selfies do you take per day? How many times have you checked your mailbox, email, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat and been disappointed at how few letters, messages, tweets, or snaps you received?

In The Genesee Diary, Henri Nouwen wrote of his own approval addiction as he described his longing to be known by others:

When you keep going anxiously to the mailbox in the hope that someone “out there” has thought about you; when you keep pondering if and what your friends are thinking of you; when you keep having hidden desires to be a somewhat exceptional person; when you keep having fantasies about [people] mentioning your name; when you keep looking for special attention; when you keep hoping for more interesting work and more stimulating events—then you know that you haven’t even started to create a little place for God in your heart (64-65).


The only remedy to me-centrism is to take the “me” out of the center. We have to die to self in order that our true selves can begin to live (Luke 9:23). No longer do we think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3), or worry about what others think of us because we are pre-occupied with what God thinks of us.

He fills our longing to be accepted with His acceptance. He removes our insecurities and makes us secure. And every time the Accuser declares we are not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, or loved enough, remember that truth destroys lies. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1, NIV).

And His approval is all we need.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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