written by
Jonah Jeremiah

The Hidden Threat Of High-Performance

Mighty 3 min read

Having a high-performance career can give you the satisfaction, income, community, and stimulation that makes you happy. 

It can even extend your personal ministry of connecting with co-workers or supporting.

When you have or pursue such a career, you are putting your talents and passions to work. 

You are putting yourself into situations where you can develop your character and leadership skills.

There is much to appreciate about the high-performance career.

Creative, hard-working, and responsible people often are the same people who pursue high-performance careers.  If you're reading this, you probably have many of these good attributes.

So this article is not to downplay or criticize having or seeking such a career.

It is, however, to make you aware of the potential cost.

Your workplace is demanding.

It demands your time, effort, and energy.

It has an insatiable appetite.

You work could take everything you have to give.

It can take more than you can ever sacrifice. 

No matter how much you give, it will never be enough.

The rewards may seem to be worth it.  Great, high-performing jobs often have enticing, seductive rewards.

These rewards, however, are fleeting.  They lure you down a path of seeming satisfaction.  But will only leave you hungry for more.

That's not the only cost of living in a high-performance culture, however.

There's an even more subtle and insidious cost of living a life in pursuit of high performance: you begin to view the world and yourself through the lens of performing for rewards.

This mindset was, however, the very thing Jesus came to free the world from.

Before I go further, I am not advocating that the world treat every one exactly the same, no matter the quality of the work they product.  This is how the real world works.  And there are legitimate truths and character-building aspects of consequences and rewards, or encouraging high-quality work.

Remember the "on-off" switch?

When you turn "on" the drive, the performance orientation -- it's very difficult to turn it "off" when it comes to matter of your spirit and your soul.

Yes, you understand it intellectually.

But it's very easy and very common for this mentality to encroach upon your relationship with God, your view of church, and your own spiritual journey.

Before Jesus, many people, spurned on by the religious leaders of the time, believed the path to God was paved with good performance.

It was believed by many that reaching goals, following the guidelines, gaining approval, and presenting the right appearance could one enter the Kingdom.

This is what was the path to destruction that Jesus wanted to save you and me from.

He knew that if we tried to carry the burden of righteousness and morality on our own strength, we would fail.

This is the performance mentality that can corrode your soul.

But this performance mentality can sneak in and sully our relationship with God.

Christ's display of righteous anger was directed towards this performance culture in the temple where an actual marketplace was set up.

Jesus' displeasure came not from the fact people were setting up shop, engaging in commerce found in the marketplace.  The mistake many people make is believing that, based on this verse, Christ looked down on those operating in the marketplace.

It was because the money changers and dove salesmen were selling goods for righteousness before God.  They were offering a way for people to buy their way into the Kingdom.

Isn't this thought the underlying premise of performance?

Even if you don't consciously believe this, when your life is seeped into the need to perform, that value system affects how you view yourself and others.

It's the opposite of the very reason Jesus came.

And it's the opposite of what will ultimately refresh your soul.

It's easy to over-spiritualize to the point of confusion the power of grace.

Yet it is that very thing which will free you from anxiety, greed, worry, exhaustion, and discontent that can spring forth from the soil of the high-performance workplace.