Killing Performance and Restoring Authenticity

If you’re a nerd like me, you get excited about planning things. And if you’re a SUPER nerd, you get even more excited about having these plans go EXACTLY the way you planned them. I’m talking about color-coding seating charts at birthday parties, formulating phrases for speaking engagements, seeing that couple you “shipped” a few months ago start dating… or closer to home, seeing breakthrough in your ministry the way you had always dreamt of, acing that exam you pulled all those all-nighters over…

This over-planning thing is truly a weird mental disease, I’m sure, and I’m hopeful that not everyone is this crazy like me, but I think we can all agree that there is a small part of us who finds comfort in being in control and manufacturing stability in our lives.

The problem with control, is that it is an illusion, and when we chase it, our lives will only come up empty. The comfort we find in control is only a symptom of a disease I’ve self-prescribed myself as: Performacosis. A disease that inflicts someone who has pushed themselves so hard in self-will and performance, that they lose their person all together.  If you are exhibiting the symptoms above here are some truth treatments to snap you into authenticity.

YOUR INNER LIFE MUST BE RICHER THAN YOUR OUTER

This seems like a basic idea, but it’s actually very difficult in today’s society. Life in America is fueled by the productivity and results. It can be easy to want to feed into the deadlines and the appearance of growth, but be dying on the inside. The Bible clearly warns us of this, that in the end times, there will be a people “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). Sometimes we are so wrapped in the appearance of things, that we can forget the power that these actions can have.

Therefore, we need fresh revelation, renewal and inspiration each day from the Lord during our times with Him. We need to prioritize spending time with Him so that we can tap into the true power of life, and more importantly, that we would fulfill the greatest purpose: to know Him.  

BEING OKAY WITH NOT OKAY

You’ve probably heard this before, but we need to be able to admit our weaknesses before God. In fact, He says that “His strength is made perfect in our weakness.” This is to say that it is not our own strength or righteousness that will make us “perfect,” but when we are able to humble ourselves and rightfully place power in God’s strength alone that we can achieve true strength. Similarly, it was not Abraham’s good works that made him righteous before God, but it was his faith (Rom. 3:6).

In the same way, we also need to be able to be “not okay” in front of others. Many of us might struggle with performance anxiety--being so consumed by our own performance and how others might perceive us that we become paralyzed or unhealthily tired. To fight against this, we need to be able to say “No,” to things God is not calling us to. Other times, we might have to settle for mediocre work from our perspective. God’s standard is much more different than the world’s standards. We must give ourselves the grace to be okay with the outcome of things, because God does not judge us on the things we cannot control, He is much more concerned about the motive of our heart, and he takes into consideration the entirety of our being. True humility is found when we can let go of our expectations of ourselves and trust in how the cross has caused God to view us.

REST IN WHO IS FIGHTING

The worker-bee personality in me gets frustrated with the word rest. It almost feels synonymous with the word lazy. Even in the story “Martha and Mary”, Martha seems like the perfect super Christian today, while Mary seems lazy and emotional. However, Martha was not rebuked by Jesus for working hard. She was rebuked because she had her priorities in the wrong place. Rest does not negate the act of working hard, but redirects our focus and the “why” we do so. When we allow the “why” of our work become the focus instead of the “what,” that opens up God to move in every sphere of life, no matter how small or great.

Many of us who grew up in homes with absent parents might feel that if we don’t act, no one else will. We might mistakenly think our performance and ability to get things done is an act of responsibility. And to take in even a step further, we might have even attributed godliness to productivity or busyness. God values a hard-worker, but He takes pleasure in those who are at peace in Him. We see this with Paul, who chose not to boast in all his abilities and things he could do for God, but He boasted in the fact that it was through Christ he could do all things (Phil 4:6). We must put our actions through the test of scripture, to see if it might be motivated by the fear that God will not act on our behalf, before moving forward.

We test it because the Bible constantly paints themes of God fighting for us, and us trusting in Him. If the scripture is true, then this is where we find true rest and true “productivity.” There is a song I used to love in college by Bethany Dillon, called “Waiting.” Here are some of the lyrics that I really had to meditate on because it seemed so foreign to me at the time:

You can do more in my waiting
Than in my doing I could do

Do we really believe this? True rest is in actively trusting the One who is fighting.

LOVE, THE SECRET INGREDIENT

To end, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“Do small things in great love.”

Greatness is not found in our performance or abilities, it is found in the love behind those acts. Even the smallest acts done in love can make waves for the kingdom, and God is faithful to lead us to them.