Saturday, February 19, 2011

Confessions of an Over-Achiever

In my younger years, I was a super-achiever. In grades, in activities, on the job . . . I was uber-perfectionist and rule-keeper extraordinaire. I loved the thrill of success, the accolades of others--it's quite a high. The sins of the super-achievement mindset are subtle and subversive, because on the outside it looks like they've got it all together.

God used drama ministry to start breaking me of this behavior. Seeing things happen on stage that were greater than the sum of the parts I had put together in my measly abilities. I've become increasingly aware of God speaking to his people through drama -- and my being no more than the pencil, or the mouthpiece. I take no credit for the success of the sketches and plays I've been a part of. Even more, I've found the joy of watching God work and the privilege of being used as a small piece of it are FAR better than the temporary high of my own success.

Not that I don't slip once in a while and crave honor for myself, but I always regret it when I do. With the honor of the success comes the burden of the failure. There is no peace for the achiever, because there's always more too be achieved.

While going to sleep last night, I wondered if this principle can be applied to other areas of my life. Like parenting. Keith and I really aren't the ones raising our kids. God is. He knows their natures, their strengths, their weaknesses, their hearts, their futures . . . he sets up situations to grow them into who they need to be . . . he nudges their hearts in the direction they need to go. We are only tools he uses: as a stick to nudge, as a wall to block, as a signal to remind, as a shoulder to comfort. The success of the mature, well-raised child goes to him -- ours is only the privilege of being used in the process and the joy of seeing the result!

How about a well-run house? A constant stress of mine. But order is a characteristic of God. He is fully capable of doing what it takes to maintain order in this home, and even of defining what constitutes order. He motivates the family members, he adjusts our schedules, he controls the flow of items in and out of the doors. Maybe I would find more peace and satisfaction in my housekeeping if I look for where God's already working to create order in my house and join him, instead of stressing myself out with my own agenda. The success of a well-run house goes to him -- ours is only the joy of the result.

And what about my own spiritual life? I'm all too aware of how incapable I am of pulling myself up to heaven by my own bootstraps. Any growth that happens in me is not a result of my Martha-like striving and planning and rule-keeping and personal disciplining . . . it's a result of his drawing me to him and my sitting Mary-like at his feet. The success (what there is any) of a well-lived life goes to him -- ALL to him -- mine is only the joy and peace of being his child.

Some of my friends -- fellow achievers -- may find this to be sad. Like I'm giving up. I've stopped reaching for the stars and am settling for mediocrity. Won't I miss the thrill of success at achievement and the satisfaction at accomplishing a great goal? Oh, no, friends. I've felt the fleeting thrill and satisfaction of my own successes -- they've got NOTHING over the abiding peace and joy of being a part of God's.

Mother Theresa once said that we cannot do great things, only small things with great love. My new mantra.

1 comment:

Vickie C said...

You and I are cut from the same cloth my friend. I too am learning that striving only makes mr anxious in the long run.