The Performance Trap!
Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that;
a little here, a little there—
so that as they go they will fall backward;
they will be injured and snared and captured. Is. 28:13
There is a toxic creep at work in the lives of many believers – devout, dedicated, determined, faithful – stuck in a pattern they may only vaguely recognize: The Performance Trap. It is a pox and a plague on the house of God, spurred by a culture that makes idols of achievement, success and – yes, performance.
As a little girl, I was taught to curtsy when introduced to an adult. Any adult. No, this wasn’t the 19th century – it was England in the mid-century. The practice was considered good manners, and almost always drew an appreciative smile and nod of approval. I beamed. I curtsied. I learned to like the sense of favor that followed my mini-performance.
The pattern continued in many less benign ways, garnering attention and affirmation from complete strangers, and applause on the stage of life. Obedient. Cooperative. Compliant. Good student. Teacher’s pet. Even gifted to lead. What every parent hopes for in a child, right?
Except…in subtle and sneaky, insinuating ways, this habit was setting up a pattern, perfectly poised to undermine authentic relationship. Do this, do that. A rule for pleasing here, a rule for approval there. A way of living up to other people’s expectations that runs afoul of the God-surrendered life.
Enter the possibility that if I do nothing – absolutely nothing except be myself – I might just discover there is more to being a child of God than I thought – or less. Less duty. Less bondage. Less need to make a mark, and more opportunity to discover the real me— the me that God knows and loves and created for His glory. Grace means that the blessings God gives me have nothing to do with expectations or performance and everything to do with love.
Here is the truth I rest in: If I have nothing but love—absolutely no word of prophecy, wisdom or revelation—love is enough. In fact, it is everything.
Where are we seeking affirmation? From other people or from God?
Are you weary? Would you like to be free?