The Performance Trap

When God considers you, does He deceive Himself in some way or does He know who you truly are?

If He knows who we truly are, then why do we preface His understanding of us with phrases such as “in God’s eyes we are righteous” or “forgiven” or “loved” or “pleasing” and so on? Are we trying to say that God is not living in reality? That He is somehow involved in self-deception? Is he just some old grandparent type who wants to overlook the faults of His grandchildren? Either He really knows who you are or He doesn’t. Playing with words this way keeps us from experiencing the reality of who we are. It also dishonors who God is. 

The second question is, If you think of yourself differently than God thinks of you, who is mistaken, you or God? How often do we allow our minds to overrule what God says is true? Keep in mind, you were made by and for God. He has placed within you needs that only He can meet. If we try to have these needs met by another person or persons, we will end up frustrated, angry, and unfulfilled.  (The Search for Significance, McGee)

During our Tuesday night Qexchange meetings, we’ve been reading and discussing the book, The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee. In the book, McGee covers four deceptions that we often believe about ourselves when looking in the mirror.

McGee lists the first false deception we believe about ourselves as the performance trap.

The Performance Trap: I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.

Ah yes, I think many of us know this one well. Being married to a soccer coach who believes in and incorporates a “no guilt, no shame, no blame” curriculum on the field, his coaching philosophy is actually a life philosophy. When I’m stuck in the performance trap, afraid to move because I might mess up, he sets me straight. Who cares if you mess up? What’s the worst that can happen?

There are so many consequences that come along with the performance trap: the fear of failure, perfectionism, anxiety, manipulation of others to achieve success, withdrawal from healthy risks…. the list goes on.

Messing up actually creates immense character, you know. Mistakes make a man! (If that’s not a “real” saying, it should be.) Andrew encourages his soccer players to get out of their comfort zones on the field. They are pushed to try new things, regardless of success or failure. When a mistake occurs, he yells out to them mid-game, “Next thing! Next thing! make it a positive and productive thing!”

God’s answer to the performance trap is justification.  He has given us a secure self-worth totally apart from our ability to perform. We have been justified and placed in right standing before God through Christ’s death on the cross, which paid for our sins. 

See, Christ became like us so we can become like Him.  He took on our sins so we can take on his righteousness.

McGee writes, “I once heard a radio preacher berate his congregation for their hidden sins. He exclaimed, ‘Don’t you know that someday you’re going to die and God is going to flash all your sins upon a giant screen in heaven for all the world to see?’ How tragically this minister misunderstood God’s gracious gift of justification!”

Justification carries no guilt with it and has no memory of past transgressions. 

Success or failure is not the basis of your self-worth! Our worth has been given to us by God and cannot be taken away by mistakes or the disapproval of others. 


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