A Guest Post by Lisa Braziel
I came from a small town but had big dreams of making my way into the field of advertising.
With parents who worked hard, I had an inner drive that was instilled in me at a very young age.
After cold-calling and landing my first internship, I came in the door with an inner determination that I would prove myself worthy of a job.
The years of running around finding tools for my Dad on a worksite were replaced with running around with my infamous notebook and scribbling notes from my boss as fast as I could write them.
Fast forward more than a decade later, and I was able to achieve my dream of turning that internship into a job and eventually into what is now my career.
As I look around, there are now more hashtags like #GirlBoss attached to photos of women entrepreneurs or women in leadership.
There are books written by women who have turned their dreams into reality – designed to inspire more women to take control of their life and work hard toward their goals.
While I can appreciate this encouragement and motivation – God has been teaching me just how dangerous it is to place our identity in our own achievement or performance.God has been teaching me just how dangerous it is to place our identity in our own achievement or performance.
The Flaw in Placing Our Hope in Our Work
Throughout my life, I had a mental correlation to how hard I worked and the end result.
The equation seemed simple: put in as much work as you possibly can and it will pay off.
I knew I may not be the smartest or most gifted person for the roles I was placed in, but I felt pride that I may work the hardest.
Real-life at work put this simple equation to the test.
For one, I began to notice patterns. The feeling of pride over completing an assignment or project was fleeting – often washed away by another assignment, a bigger milestone to hit.
I also found that curveballs were common.
After laboring hard to meet expectations of others or planning proactively for unforeseen circumstances, weeks of work could be undone by new directions or movements completely out of my control.
Then, I had kids and no longer could find my worth in being the first in or the last to leave.
All too often I found that simply trying my best and working hard didn’t feel like it was satisfying my soul. The bar kept rising. Expectations kept changing. The curveballs kept coming.
Luckily, Scripture helped me see I wasn’t alone.
The Old Testament is filled with stories of people working hard to build their own kingdoms.
In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon pursued success and hard work to its very end and came to the conclusion that it was “chasing the wind”.
While our labor can be used by God, I learned that I had been treating my achievements and performance as my identity and hope in each day.
They had become my idols.While our labor can be used by God, I learned that I had been treating my achievements and performance as my identity and hope in each day.
3 Truths To Free You From The Performance Trap
So – for all of my fellow performers, achievers, and people-pleasers – I want to share three biblical truths that are helping me break free from the performance trap.
Truth 1: Remember Jesus Finished the Most Important Work
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” – John 19:30 HCSB
Jesus’ last words on the cross help clarify that the most important work on this earth has already been accomplished.
By realizing our biggest enemy (death) was conquered, we are given a larger eternal picture that puts the temporary nature of our daily work back into focus.By realizing our biggest enemy (death) was conquered, we are given a larger eternal picture that puts the temporary nature of our daily work back into focus.
This helps us look up from our temporary to-do lists and lighten our load.
No longer do we have to feel the full weight of expectations, deadlines, and our own performance.
Truth 2: Who We Are Working For Matters
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24 HCSB
As Christians, there is nothing wrong with using our ambitions, gifts, and talents in our workplaces, communities, and homes.
However – it is critical to remember and consider who we are ultimately serving.
All too often my achievements (even the “godly” ones) were to serve my own pride or satisfy the expectations of others around me.All too often my achievements were to serve my own pride or satisfy the expectations of others around me.
This slight twist is common, praised, and accepted by our culture – but it often leaves us dry, weary, and far from finding our strength in God.
Truth 3: God is Renewing Our Work
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB
While my desire to please and perform have often been misguided, God is still in the process of renewing and guiding me in the places he’s called me to work.
As I go through my roles as a wife, co-worker, and leader, knowing that I’m being led and renewed in Christ gives me the power to overcome patterns of performance and people-pleasing that have been hard-wired into me.Christ gives us the power to overcome patterns of performance and people-pleasing that have been hard-wired into us.
Where is Your Hope Found?
Are you tired and worn out from trying to meet the expectations of others or yourself?
Do you find your hope in feeling accomplished in a day?
You may be finding your identity more in what you do rather than whose you are.
I encourage you to bring this to God in prayer and the reading of God’s word daily.
Only through walking closely with Him and finding your true identity in Him can you feel the freedom from finding your identity in your performance or accomplishments.
— Lisa Braziel
Lisa Braziel is a working mom with 2 kids who is in constant need of more coffee and even more of God’s grace. You can follow Lisa’s writings at www.graceinthegravel.com and on Instagram at @GraceInTheGravel where she shares how she’s practically learning to follow Jesus in the messiness of her everyday life.