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The Performance Trap

I really hate walking on a treadmill and honestly, I don’t like walking round and round the track. Being stuck on something going nowhere isn’t my idea way to get needed exercise. I always think of the little rats or hamsters that are stuck on the wheels, just running and running, but never getting anywhere. Not everyone has the same sentiment as me, but I hate the feeling of working so hard, but not really getting anywhere. I would rather walk around the world than sit there and walk on a treadmill or around the track. At work, I have also felt, as if I am running non-stop without anything to show for it. Maybe you have felt this way?

This is how people who think they have to work their way to righteousness often feel, or at least I did. There was a time when I put so many locks on my life with legalistic and religious ideas that had nothing to do with the Gospel, I felt trapped. I was that hamster on the wheel just spinning and spinning, but never getting anywhere. I felt like I was a total failure, because I wasn’t getting anywhere and I wasn’t able to obtain or do the things I thought I should be doing as a Christian. I thought I had to perform and do certain things or others would also see that I was a failure. I would put on my false face and fake it, until I thought they bought into my performance. I was the hamster on the wheel spinning my wheel going nowhere.

As a culture, we often think that more is better. In my Christian walk, I often felt that I had to do more to be better, until one day I realized that I couldn’t work my way to heaven or doing anything for God to love me more. It is a free gift. I had a mental checklist of what I should and shouldn’t do. I didn’t fully comprehend the grace message – I didn’t understand that grace is what saved me, I thought that I had to pay God back with good works in order to remain saved. I thought I had to do certain things and abstain from doing certain things, or I would lose my salvation or at the very least, God would be disappointed in me. That is a life of living under the law – not grace. We were saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJ, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”).

In Evangelism, it is easy to get caught up in the “more is better” theory. We often think that the more people who turn out for an event is better and the more people who make commitments is better – oh sure, it is better when more people get saved, but it is easy to get lost in the performance of things and not rejoice in the smaller things. Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged when smaller numbers attend or make commitments, because we have seen greater things, but with God, it is all about the one on one. You cannot grow in your personal relationship with him if you are too busy doing all these works, so that you can measure up to some false standard.

It is not about the numbers (Read Matthew 18:12-14), if it was then Jesus wouldn’t have used the illustration in Matthew of leaving the 99 and going after the one. It’s not about how well you perform, but instead, it is all about whether you are doing the will of God. And it is not God’s will for you to be running yourself ragged doing all these “Christ-like” things that He never asked you to do. Quit getting caught in the performance trap going round and round, running yourself down, but never getting anywhere. You don’t have to do all these things, trying to be a super-Christian – because it has already been done for you.

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