In the last post, The Lure of High Performance, you learned that we all can be lured into the high-performance life. There are many good things about challenging oneself, rising to the occasion, and delivering results that matter.
The challenge, however, is allowing the high-performance mentality to leak into your soul. It runs counter to experiencing grace. Not only in living out a life transformed by Christ's grace, but a life seeped with God's common graces, the every day graces, that we can receive from others and from ourselves.
Like the frog in the pot with the temperature slowly, but imperceptibly, rising, we soon find ourselves in hot water.
So what can we do?
Here are some key antidotes to the life driven by the quest for higher and higher performance.
The marketplace can never be satisfied.
If you were to go to your company, your boss, your board or your customers and say that you will double your output, not matter what it took, they'd probably take it. Okay, they may not say it, but all else being equal, why not?
They can always take more.
They can always ask you for me.
In turn, the wider your eyes are at what's possible if you do more, make more, achieve more...you, too, can never be satisfied.
The antidote is to slowly strip away those hungers and, instead, find satisfaction.
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
This is God's plan, to be the source of satisfaction. Not our work, not our accolades and not our possessions.
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
The flip side of satisfaction, but just as important to combatting the corrosive effects of the high-performance mindset is sorry, specifically, Godly sorrow.
Why is this so important?
Seems like a downer. A rain on the parade.
After all, us high-performers are often optimistic, visionaries, and positive people. So what's the good of sorrow?
Godly sorrow, in fact, is not meant to make you lock yourself into a closet and be all down and sad.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Instead, when we realize the depths of our sin in a way that allows us to repent, come to God, receive grace, we can free ourselves from regret. We can banish the emptiness that can often lead us to drive ourselves nutty.
For those of us trying to make something with ourselves, we often read about the need to cast a vision.
The reality is, many of us who think and dream big, do have a vision. Certain visions and clarity is, in fact, a good thing.
However, the term "vision" is overused and just because we have a vision doesn't mean we're meant to pursue it.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:16)
But we are to have sight instead of blindness (or blurriness -- which is more common and probably just as bad). Why is he asking us to see with such urgency?
Because when we truly see, we see the new "reality" -- the way things heaven should be as on earth.
Set your sight on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)
When we have this kind of sight, we may want to run through walls and climb impossible mountains.
Those things are far different from chasing after the temporary, and if our eyes are on the far greater prize, it's more difficult for the temptations of the high-performance life to pull you back in.
I pray that your hearts will be able to understand. I pray that you will know about the hope given by God’s call. I pray that you will see how great the things are that He has promised to those who belong to Him. (Ephesians 1:18)
If you open your eyes to a whole set of reality, you may even see the high-performance trade-off for what it is -- a losing trade and a rigged game. And instead, see the opportunity to experience life in its fullness without needing the fall for the mirage around you.
Alright, seems like a little bit of a contradiction.
The way to escape the costs of the high-performance life is to be changed through the grace of Christ. And in doing so, see a different reality, one that can motivate you to perhaps even climb higher and run further.
However, the path isn't a walk in the park.
To put it simply, the antidote is to sacrifice, but not the things that are typically sacrificed at the altar of high-performance: family, friends, God.
It's to sacrifice the things that we think we need, the things that we hold dear: status, comfort, convention, pride, ego.
Those things, surprisingly, are harder for men with high-performance tendency.
Far easier is it to work late "just one more night."
It's much easier to skip the recital "just this once."
What's the sacrifice God seeks, and therein is perhaps a far greater reward.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
(Okay, no "S"-word here. I did it on purpose - pun intended).
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
If you love something truly and deeply you don't have to perform. You know the saying would you do it even if you weren't getting paid?
That's the difference between being purposeful and being mercenary.
If we're making decisions based on status, comfort, wealth -- we're being mercenary. Even if we aren't being crass about it.
But being purposeful is a kick in the groin of the high-performance boogeymen.
Because we long as you are on purpose, you are more likely to withstand (sorry, you won't be bulletproof) to the temptation to show more for your work, to drive in the same fast lane as everyone else.
There's a thrill to performing at our highest levels.
Doing things to the best of our ability -- perhaps even straining our ability -- is something we've been built for.
Being a high-performer for human praise, actually, is a much lower bar. Doing so is like putting dirty fuel into a high-octane engine.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
How do you battle against the high-performance forces around you?