From report cards to team sports;
from job evaluations to the solo sung in church . . .
We are frequently measured based on our performance.
If we don’t work hard enough, someone else will get the promotion.
If we don’t practice hard enough, we won’t make those three-point shots.
If we don’t run hard enough, we won’t finish the 5k in record time.
Performance-based criteria will always be a part of our lives. And some of it is necessary, such as studying hard so we don’t fail a class or practicing a solo to ensure we sing on key and in sync with the music.
But the problem occurs when we allow performance to seep into our spiritual lives creating a false standard that says in order to be accepted and loved, we have to measure up or out-perform.
Our society warns us that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and shouts at us to stay one step ahead; therefore, in the world’s eyes, success is often based on how well we perform. But if we apply this performance-based mentality to our spiritual life, the result is a religious check list of tasks that we feel pressured to excel at, thus prompting us to constantly strive to earn God’s approval.
If we follow this line of thinking, we will always be frustrated and exhausted as well as overwhelmed with a sense of spiritual inadequacy.
Please listen close, dear friend – –
God never intended for our purpose to be dictated by our performance.
Despite the pressures from our schools, jobs, friends, and family, we can guard our spiritual lives from becoming effort-driven by remembering God’s promises and accepting His unlimited grace.
Here are a few truths we can cling to when the performance-based mentality threatens to invade our spiritual walk:
God always finishes what He starts.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
God desires a heart that seeks Him, and when we step out in faith, He is the one who gives us strength in the midst of our weaknesses. God doesn’t do things half way. He will always complete His good work in us.
Faith is not a competition.
God equips each of us with different spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12), and He doesn’t call us to the exact same tasks. So if we are comparing our faith walk with others to determine if we measure up to what they are doing, we simply need to stop! Be aware that Satan is prowling about (I Peter 5:8), seeking to use any means possible to discourage us and disrupt our relationships. Comparison is a tool that can not only make us feel inadequate, it can also create division within the church.
God desires for us to thrive.
Jesus wants us to experience the abundant life (John 10:10) that comes from following Him with our whole heart. When we stop relying on self-effort and, instead, surrender to the work of Christ in our life, He will use us in powerful ways. We thrive when we let go and allow Him to be in control, not when we fight hard to out-perform.
In today’s society, resisting performance-based faith is a hard lesson to learn. But when we refrain from the urge to strive for spiritual accolades, God will begin to work in our surrendered hearts to fulfill His purposes in ways we never imagined.
In His Grace,
This post is Pause #4 in my series “Pausing to Live Purposefully”. As we journey to live a life of purpose, we must remember that our purpose is not dictated by our performance.
This week I encourage you to surrender your self-efforts and allow Jesus to work through you as you pursue His purpose for your life.
You can read the other posts in this series by clicking below:
Introduction to Pausing to Live Purposefully – click here.
Pause #1 – “Uncovering the New” – click here.
Pause #2 – “The Power That Fuels Our Purpose – click here.
Pause #3 – “Who Do You Say I Am?” – click here.
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