How to Free Yourself from the Constant Pressure to Perform

What Are We Trying to Prove to God When We Overcommit?

If there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” why do we Christians so often feel like we’re just not good enough? Why do we try to do more, to overcommit ourselves to accomplishing more than we ever could, as if God’s love for us depended on our accomplishments?

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In my experience, to know Christ is enough and to live like it are two different things.

No matter what I may have accomplished in the past, I sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit) find myself thinking–and sometimes even saying—I don’t think I have much value to God.

I’m not worth much to Him. I haven’t done much for Him lately.

Why would he—or anyone—love me when I haven’t performed in the way I thought I could?

And so I try to do more—to help more, to take on more, to carry my weight.

I don’t think I am alone.

In my experience, mature Protestant Christians stumble and fall in this area more than almost any other.

I make a point to say “Protestant” Christians because we are rightly adamant that salvation is by grace alone, apart from any works that we can do.

Although we say that our salvation is by grace through faith alone, we live as if we still need to prove our worth to God.

Every. Single. Day.

The Sin that So Easily Weighs Us Down

When we overcommit, we often do so out of a twisted sense of duty, or a quest to demonstrate our value apart from His redeeming love.

We think we must do more to feel like we’re earning our keep.

We know better than to claim our works qualify us for membership, but we strive to pay our dues anyways.

One of the heaviest sins that weighs us down in our faith walk is the belief that we are not “enough” in Christ.

But the truth is this: God’s love for me is not connected to my performance for Him.

Let that sink in, because I am confident that few of us really believe it.

Paying Our Dues

My pastor Dr. McKay Caston uses this example: We Christians tend to think of God’s love like a country club. God has paid the entry fee, but we have to keep paying the dues.

We know we could never merit salvation– “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” But to stay in his good graces, well, we need to do a little something to prove we belong. Or rather a lot of somethings–or we’ll lose our pool privileges.

  • We’ll technically still be members, but not in good standing.
  • We’ll still get to heaven, but won’t have as much access to the throne room.
  • We’ll make it to glory, but not be all that happy about how we get there—unless we do more to prove we’re worthy of those privileges.

It’s a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke.

God loves all of His creation in a general sense. But He loves those whom He has adopted in a special way, as only a Father loves His children.

As the Just Judge of all men He has declared His children to be righteous, perfect, and complete, solely because of the work that Christ has done, “not of works, lest any man should boast.”

So it’s not on you to prove your worth to merit the relationship in the first place.

Most of us get that—at least in theory, but not in practice.

His ongoing love for us does not depend on our performance. That’s why it’s called grace.

Distract and Flee

Warning: Right here is where we like to veer off into an argument about whether we can lose our salvation or lecture on the importance of sanctification.

We like to point out, “Sure God loves us no matter what we do, BUT… if we’re truly saved we will do good works.”

Implied in that true statement is a subtle pressure to continually perform, to crank out “good works” on a consistent basis to prove that we are truly in good with God.

That pressure can leave us with a “what have you done for God lately” attitude as if we must merit His ongoing love.

Sure he gifted a membership to us, but if we don’t pay the annual fee (it was in the fine print of the inscription on the cross), our membership can be suspended.

Not cancelled, mind you, just sort of downgraded.

Maybe we won’t be allowed to eat in the restaurant or play the golf course, because we haven’t met our quota.

We lost it with your spouse, we stumbled into sin, we failed to give generously enough—the list goes on.

There is no shortage of ways we all fall short—yet God still loves us anyways.

He saved us to become the righteousness of God, not because we do the righteousness of God.

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

God loves those who are in Christ, because they are in Christ.

When I look at me, I see failure. When God looks at me, he sees perfection.  Because I am in Christ.

There is nothing I can do to be more or less in Christ.

It’s not as if He has given me a green card for a conditional stay or that my status can be revoked for bad behavior.

I do not have to prove myself for God to keep loving me. I do not have to do more to merit more of His love.

And neither do you.

He loves us because He loves us. Period.

Live in that freedom today.

Question: How do you struggle to live in the freedom God has purchased for you? How might your story be different if you truly rested “in Him”? Share your thoughts by clicking here.

Photo credit: bohed

What to Do When Your Spouse Disagrees about Your Calling

7 Reminders to Help Get on the Same Page with Your Spouse

You think you know the direction God would have you to go. You believe you have clarity about your next steps to do what God designed you to do. You may even want to leave your current job and step out in a new direction. But your spouse doesn’t see it. What do you do?

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A reader actually sent me this question recently. It’s one I receive fairly frequently from Christians trying to figure out God’s best for their lives. And it is an important one.

How to Stop Being Afraid and Obey God

7 Biblical Steps for Overcoming Fear

Smack dab in the middle between real life and real faith is—real fear.  Fear of failure. Fear that we’ll look foolish. Fear that everyone will laugh when we do fail. Fear that __________ —fill in the blank with your own fear. There’s no shortage of reasons to be afraid. But how can we stop being afraid?

-Meet your fears with faith.-

I believe that for those who have trusted in Christ as their only hope, God has not left us to be paralyzed by the unknown.

Instead, His Word gives us 7 steps for overcoming fear and rising victoriously above the challenges that come our way.

That’s not to say it will be easy.

How to Pursue Your Authentic Life Adventure

7 Steps to Take When Stepping Out in a New Life Direction

So you want to step out in a new life direction. But you’re afraid. That’s normal. Fear often keeps us from moving forward. What if I showed you the steps needed to move forward with clarity, confidence, and abundant faith to live an authentic life adventure?

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First let me acknowledge that I did not follow all of the steps I am about to share with you—not intentionally anyway. Some I had to learn the hard way.

How to Find Your Authentic Life Direction

5 Suggestions For Clarity & Confidence in a New Life Direction

Do you know where you are headed next in life? Do you know where you should be headed next? If you’re like a lot of us, you may have accidentally fallen into a life direction instead of intentionally choosing your best path.

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But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t be that way.

God created each one of us with unique strengths, passions, and skills sets. He gave us each unique relationship connections that open doors of opportunity unavailable to others.

And He expects us to use it all to more fully reveal His majesty on earth as it is in heaven.

God’s Plans Rarely Move in a Straight Line

Why Insisting on the Best Route May Keep You from Your Destination

You’ve probably heard it said that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And usually that’s true. Except when we’re considering our life story – and God is involved.

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Think about it.

God’s redemptive story has unfolded throughout history with a singular purpose, but it has often taken a circuitous route, twisting and turning unexpectedly, even doubling back on itself at times.

Or so it seems to us.

Life Direction: How to Get There from Here

Are You Willing to Make the Commitment to Move?

I had another post planned for today to help equip you to live an authentic life. I love hearing from all of you who let me know the faith challenges you face. I then prayerfully plan posts, podcasts, and other resources (in the works) to help you get clarity and confidence for living the Christian life. But today I wanted to share a few thoughts about how to get there from here.

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I’ve recently had a number of conversations with people seeking clarity on life direction, something we all crave.

To All Those Who Want Their Story to Matter

Someday, you will tell your story. You may tell it here and now in this life or there and then in your next season of existence, after you have “shuffled off this mortal coil.” But it’s going to happen. The question is: will your story be worth telling?

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Whether or not your story will be a good one will depend on one thing – your faith.

I don’t mean your commitment to organized religion or your ability to describe a conversion experience in vivid detail. We Christians are good at assuming our story will be good because we once said a prayer to secure a spot in heaven someday. I’m not talking about fire insurance.

I’m talking about faithdoing what you believe to be true, often in spite of what you see, sense, or feel. Faith is what writes your story and determines whether it will be a story worth telling.

The Greatest Risk You Face Right Now

What if the greatest risk you face isn’t what you think?

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If we listed our current top five fears (or does concerns sound like more acceptable Christianeze?), I suspect most of us would have lists like this:

  • Will I have enough money?
  • Will that relationship work out?
  • Will I find healing for this physical body I’m stuck with?
  • Will the right people like and accept me?
  • Will anyone find out that I’m actually an idiot?

Well, maybe some of us don’t worry about that last one as much as we should. But the reality is this: all but one of those fears is already in the process of fading away. The Apostle Paul said it best:

The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

For FaithWalkers, only relationships will last beyond our brief tour of this earth. And even those often come and go throughout our brief stay. How many of us lived our high school and college years consumed with what our peers thought of us – only to seldom, if ever, see them once we passed that season of life?