Up Instead of Around

“Even the breath we use to worship God comes from Him.”

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Do You Like Me?

I liked to be liked. You probably do as well. We are this way because God created us to be relational. When this attribute goes to an extreme, it becomes less about relationship and more about building up your self-image. A focus on yourself usually comes at the expense of others. If wearing yourself out climbing the ladder of recognition ceases to work, you knock others down a rung or off the ladder altogether. When that fails, you de-value yourself because you do not appear to be measuring up. 

A person heading towards religious burnout will eventually replace responding to God’s heart with the approval of other Christians. They gain satisfaction from the appearance of doing better or achieving more than others. What is lost in this toxic cycle is God’s perspective of you and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

When you forget God likes you just the way you are, you turn His process of mercy into a system of performance. Everyone becomes measured by manmade standards instead of encouraged in their journey. This form of legalism causes God’s word to become a way to determine how far people have drifted away instead of a tool to bring them closer to Him.

The Path to the Top

A Christian caste system categorizes by labels instead of appreciating how much God values people. Those who meet your standards of a holy life are the ruling elite. Others who have yet to attain your regimen of performance are marked as abusers of grace. When you fall short, you hide it. When they fall short, their sincerity and even their salvation are called into question.

This is not what God intended. It is a path leading many to insecurity and burnout. Comparing yourself to others is a poor measure of your true worth and of theirs. 

If the top of the church food chain is where you want to be, do not look to be in front of people. Get behind them. There is more room back there anyway. This extra space makes it easier for you to be yourself. You will grow your influence by growing people. While everyone else is crowding the front, and contorting their lives around being celebrated, you will actually be living a life of meaning and purpose.

The more you get behind people, the more people will get behind you. One day, you may turn around and discover more people are behind you than ever would have been if you had given up your authentic-self in an attempt to take the short cut to get in front of them. Living this way gains people’s trust instead of just their attention. When you find your success in helping other people find God and their own success, you have uncovered the key to lasting influence.

Know Your Worth

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

– Ephesians 2:8-9

You cannot get to the point of deserving God’s goodness more than others. God already showed you how much you are worth by bankrupting heaven to purchase your salvation on the Cross. You never have or will deserve that fantastic gift.

Understanding this truth will remind you to look up instead of around for your affirmation. You will never determine your purpose by looking at the other tools in the toolbox. You must keep your eyes on the Craftsman to understand your design. God is the author and finisher of your faith. You can trust Him and his plan for you.

This blog is an excerpt from my new mini-book, Surviving Religious Burnout, is out now. You can order it at Amazon, Kindle, Apple Books, and Barnes and Noble.

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