We are a performance-obsessed culture. Everything is measured, and everyone measures themselves against other people. Be it social media, sports, or the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses competition of status symbols, we are on a treadmill of competition.
And we are buckling under the pressure.
Depression rates are up. Suicide rates, including, tragically, youth suicide, are on the rise. I know of two young men in particular – stand out baseball players – who had mental breakdowns from parental pressure.
It’s not just non-believers, either. The pressure to perform is rife in the church. We play all the same games as those outside the church, but we just use different language for it. We use prayer requests to gossip about others so we’ll feel better. We still struggle with consumerism and cliques.
The problem is that we’ve prioritized performance over position. Allow me to explain.
Performance is based upon our actions, talents, and chance. We can only control one of these three variables: our actions. Our talents can be cultivated, but you aren’t going to make an Olympic sprinter out of me if I’m not gifted for it. (And I’m not.) So when we obsess over our performance, we obsess over our actions. Do, do, do. Do more. Achieve, achieve, achieve. Do more. It’s a maniacal approach that borders on insanity.
Position, however, is identity-based. And we can do very little about our position as well – except we can accept it. As a Christian, I can accept the fact that I am completely depraved and by nature a rebel against God’s designs. I can accept the fact that I seek to perform to glorify myself and to gather up fame for myself. And, praise God, I can accept the fact that this is why Jesus had to come – to shed his blood for me and to give me a new heart. That’s position.
If we prioritize our performance, we will try to make something of ourselves at the expense of knowing who we already are. If we prioritize position, we start with knowing who we are and from there proceed to perform to the best of our ability to God’s glory. But at the end of the day, if we know our position our performance does not affect our joy. It is our position that shines light into our souls.
So consider your position. Consider who you are and who you aren’t. You are a sinner in need of God’s grace. And consider how that grace is offered in Christ. Drink of that grace, and return to it and over and over again, whether you perform well or terribly.
Position over performance.