“I like you.”

Those three words sent chills down my 5th grade spine. It made me do crazy things, like circle “yes” on a ruled sheet of notebook paper that read, “Do you like me back?” and pass it through the hands of four friends to a blushing girl.

Being liked is powerful stuff. It makes politicians bend their convictions, and actors turn their heads.

But not being liked is just as powerful. In fact, the desire to be liked by those who don’t like you can be one of life’s most dangerous motivators. The more we try and appease the myriad of voices that sing our praise or ridicule, the more we tend to abandon our primary purposes. We become un-true to ourselves.

When All Eyes Are On You

As a pastor, I have the honor of wading into the arena of theology, and engaging—whether I want to or not—with everyone else’s personal pet doctrines. As a business man, I never run my businesses the way everyone else thinks I should, from employee to patron. And as an artist, I never communicate “it” quite the way everyone else would like me to.

No matter what arena you’re in, if you stand for something, someone’s bound not to like you. And if you have any ounce of humanity, you’ll at least think about how to get them to like you. I know I do.

Being liked isn’t bad; but trying to be liked by everyone is.

Because it’s impossible.

The transient nature of the human opinion is decidedly insecure. I believe it could be one of the sandy foundations Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:26-27:

But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Who Matters Most?

If being liked is an unavoidable goal of the heart—which anyone who says it isn’t, doesn’t have a heart—make sure you’re liked by the people who matter most.

I want my wife to like me. I want to know what she thinks. Her opinion matters a great deal. A thousand people can tell me I did a good job, but if she disagrees, then I did a poor job; similarly, the masses can say I was terrible, but her one word of affirmation can silence them all.

I want my kids to like me. Not loathe me. It doesn’t mean I don’t make the hard call, but it means that when I do, I do it lovingly. Part of my legacy is making sure their memories of me have integrity—that when they think back on me, they realize I was trying to model as much of the heavenly Father as I could.

I want to know what my closest friends think, my advisors, my pastors. I covet the “likes” of the wisest people around me. In a world where “like” is a cheap button-click away, I want the hard-won, deeply fought for, dig-deep kind of like that you can’t get from a screen, but you can only get from a look in the eye.

And most of all, I want my God to like me. I want my conduct to so much reflect his, that he notices himself in me.

Like of Love

The danger is that as we cater more to the opinions of people we have no relationship with, we actually suppress the value of the people who we do have relationship with. The very ones we claim we like are the ones we’re conveying deep disinterest toward.

In the end, being liked is merely the precursor to a far more innate emotional need: being loved. And being loved is more powerful than being liked, because real love is not as conditional on what we do, but more, who we are.

Make sure you’re liked by the ones you love the most. Everyone else can afford to be upset.



Kimberlee Dawn Long · 12 Feb ’14 at 12:07 pm

This is awesome, guy, and your spot about how much influence your wife’s opinion has on you is a good reminder to me how much I need to speak highly of my husband. 🙂 Not only should I focus on being liked by the correct people, I need to make sure I like the right people too!

    Christopher Hopper · 12 Feb ’14 at 12:27 pm

    “Not only should I focus on being liked by the correct people, I need to make sure I like the right people too!”

    What a great comment. Thanks, Kimberlee.

Michael Hensley · 12 Feb ’14 at 12:41 pm

Great sentiments, Hopp!! Reminds me of the saying, “we tend to hurt those that love us most”. I think this phenomenon occurres when our familiarity with another person causes us to think that their grace toward us will make them accept our bad behavior. But then, we tend to worry about how we make a stranger feel, and go out of our way to extend kindless. How foolish that we don’t act kindly toward those that truly love us. Hmmm. I see a divine application here!!

    Christopher Hopper · 12 Feb ’14 at 1:06 pm

    Wow. Very insightful. Over familiarity is really just presumption in its most basic form, isn’t it. A lack of care.

    Thanks for the valuable addition, Michael. Well reasoned.

Beth Walrath · 12 Feb ’14 at 7:31 pm

This is great. Talking to my managers this past week we have discovered that my biggest obstacle is confrontation. Though, I will never like it, I need to remember that as a leader and manager in training people aren’t going to like everything I do. I like everyone to be happy and it’s not always possible.
This also reminds me of school, we always wanted to be a part of the in crowd or the cool group. When in reality our friends were the cool group. We tend to take those we love for granted.
Great life lesson.

    Christopher Hopper · 12 Feb ’14 at 8:11 pm

    Being a manager is certainly not for the faint of heart, and the mere fact that you actually care about your coworkers is so refreshing. Very proud of you.

    “We tend to take those we love for granted.”

    Gosh, this too often the case. Let’s curb it today, and make sure we tell someone how much they mean to us! And that we “like them.”

      Beth Walrath · 12 Feb ’14 at 9:13 pm

      “Very proud of you.” Thanks, You are a partial credit for who I am today. My boss is actually making me talk at the next meeting to inspire my coworkers. Because of what you taught me, during my youth leader years, I am really looking forward to it. So I will start by saying I like you and your family very much. 🙂

        Christopher Hopper · 12 Feb ’14 at 9:19 pm

        You’re simply awesome. Go get em, girl! What an honor to have invested into you.

Karen Aubertine · 13 Feb ’14 at 5:45 am

amen…. well said…

    Christopher Hopper · 13 Feb ’14 at 7:02 am

    Thank you for the comment, Karen. Love you guys.

jeanie · 13 Feb ’14 at 8:10 am

Gene and I LIKE you, LOVE you, all you Hoppers!

    Christopher Hopper · 13 Feb ’14 at 2:37 pm

    Awe! And that means the world to me. I can think of few finer people I’ve ever met, or had pour into my life. “Like” you both too.

Sherry Whyte · 13 Feb ’14 at 10:11 am

Amen! Just finished having a conversation with the granddaughters last week about being liked by their piers and not having it change who they are.

    Christopher Hopper · 13 Feb ’14 at 2:38 pm

    You’re such a great grandmother, Sherry. This generation needs to be reminded of this, and you’re a wonderful teacher for it. Keep it up.

Kevin J. Nofziger · 13 Feb ’14 at 12:16 pm

Hi Christopher! Great article … the struggles of us all! Long Live Longwy! 🙂

    Christopher Hopper · 13 Feb ’14 at 2:39 pm

    Pour toujours, mon frére. Man, I think of you every time I land in France. Hope you’re doing well. Jennifer and I will be back teaching at EDEN this July.

AnneMarie Lachance-Sureau · 13 Feb ’14 at 2:54 pm

When I managed a restaurant in Los Angeles, being disliked was one of the most stressful aspects of my job. I did the hiring and firing and disciplining and would often drive home in tears. That the owners and customers liked me did not carry enough weight to negate the staff members (even if it was only a few and only some of the time) who did not. It was hard. Like Beth said, confrontation was extremely difficult. Add to that I was not popular for my non-liberal views (remember this was LA!). But I know despite not being popular there was a level of respect by standing my ground, no matter the tears on the way home. Hard lessons but valuable ones.

    Christopher Hopper · 13 Feb ’14 at 3:43 pm

    Powerful stuff here, AM. Makes me respect you even more (knowing that I already do). There’s a price to pay for that level of influence, as well as that level of (political) resistance. You’re built slight, but you’re built strong. (Reminds me of a certain daughter I know). 😉

      AnneMarie Lachance-Sureau · 13 Feb ’14 at 4:44 pm

      Merci, CH.
      Why am I never prepared for statements like the one in your parentheses? A certain sense of a right hook to my heart. You’d think by now I’d see it coming and know it before it is even said. God’s sense of irony in my life is a double edged sword all its own…(insert heavy sigh here)

        Christopher Hopper · 13 Feb ’14 at 4:54 pm

        And yet, it has within it a very precious key, in that you inately know what it takes to channel that powerful woman into androgen for the kingdom. That, and she has what you did not: a constant and firm Christian world view from infancy. You have invested well, and there’s a reward for it. Love always hopes, always trusts, and always endures. Keep loving. And I love you! Hug my Pascal for me too.

          AnneMarie Lachance-Sureau · 13 Feb ’14 at 5:44 pm

          (chokes back tears)
          Merci mon frère….

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