The stunning brunette caught my eye as she staggered through the campus lawn in her stiletto ankle boots. Her blue eyes were glassy. Her speech slurred.

In one hand she held a cigarette, in the other a champagne bottle. She tipped the bottle up and polished off the rest of it with several loud gulps and a burp. Her black leather mini skirt barely grazed the tops of her spray-tanned thighs and the deep “v” in her top exposed a lot of her shapely chest to the world.

Like hungry sharks, a group of older, way-to-eager guys encircled her, sensing her growing vulnerability. She couldn’t have been more than 18 years old.

Even though I saw her wandering by our football tailgate party years ago, she still haunts me:

Did those boys take advantage of her?

Did any of her friends try to help her?

Did she make it home safely? I pray that she did.

I wish I’d run up to her, put my arm around her and said,

“You were made for more than this. Don’t strive so hard for attention. Instead, strive to become who God made you to be.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging.

I don’t know exactly what led her to behave like that, but I got the feeling she was desperately trying to fit in. To be cool. To win the approval of others.

Possibly she felt inferior to the older students, so she tried to act like a pop star, instead of simply being herself. Maybe she craved external validation because inwardly, she felt invalid.

And if I’m not careful, sometimes I can act just like her.

As a woman, it’s easy to strive to impress. To try to be cool. To please people.

As a Mom, it’s tempting to feel inferior to other “perfect” parents and try to act like a Supermom, instead of simply being myself.

As a writer, when an article tanks, or the month’s book sales are off, it can make me crave external validation because—if I let it—it can make me feel invalid.

I don’t think I’m alone.

Here’s the problem with striving for attention and self-validation: it can cause you to make huge, expensive mistakes that can wreck your life. Stunt your inner growth. Block your creativity. It can cause you to focus on yourself and worse, to mistreat others.

And here’s the saddest part: no matter how hard you try to win other people’s approval, it’s never enough. Even an ocean of compliments, plaques for your wall and pats-on-the-back won’t make you feel better inside (for long). That’s because validation, or a positive sense of self-worth, must come from within.

Here’s the truth: you will never reach your full potential or be able to serve others without first having a healthy sense of self-worth.

But how?

Only the Lord can build a healthy sense of confidence and self-worth within you. As you draw closer to Him, His power enables you stop living to please people and start living to please Him.

I know. I’ve lived this.

When I feel needy and find myself  people-pleasing, clamoring for attention and competing, it helps me to remember the girl I saw on campus that day and confess—I’m acting just like her. As I pray for help, I feel God put His loving arm around me and say: You were made for more than this. 

I believe you were made for more, too.

No matter how low you may feel today, remember you are valuable to God. He sent His son to save you because He considers you worth saving. (That’s why it’s called “good news”)

“For God so loved the world (namely, you and me) that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jn. 3:16 ESV

But even if you’ve been saved, you might still feel like something’s lacking. You may feel needy, “less than” or a bit empty, sometimes. 

You might be tempted to try to please people or please yourself, instead of God.

Life has a way of tearing us down and bringing out the worst in us, doesn’t it?

If you’re feeling down today, if you feel like competing or comparing or clamoring for approval, let me gently put my arm around you and say:

“You were made for more than this. Don’t strive so hard for attention. Instead, strive to become the wonderful, unique person God made you to be.”

Focus on these 7 affirming, confidence-building verses that promise you were made for more:

You’re valuable:
“For you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were less than nothing; now you are God’s own. Once you knew very little of God’s kindness; now your very lives have been changed by it.” (1 Peter 2:9-10 TLB)

You belong:
“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.” (1 Jn. 3:1 VOICE)

You’re secure:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never die, and no one can steal them out of my hand.” (Jn. 10:27-28 NCV)

You’re gifted:
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (1 Pet. 4:10 NLT)

You’re a new creation:
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17 NLT)

You were planned:
All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.” (Ps. 139:16 NCV)

Your life matters:
“God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10 GW)

God made you for more. Meditate on these 7 confidence-building verses when you feel “less than.” Subscribe in the form below to download!