Do you feel stretched beyond measure and constantly tired? Do you feel like no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to measure up? I believe that performance is a struggle that every generation has had to work through. Why? Because performance is the opposite of a solid identity. It’s built on a religious mindset and man’s attempt to please God through self-effort and striving. Not only that, but it’s a religion of shame, offering no rest for the weary. It demands that we work harder, accomplish more, and perform better to achieve a sense of well-being and worthiness.
I think that every new season and challenge presents us with a question: Will we respond as sons and daughters who trust our heavenly father to take care of us? Or will we take back control and partner with performance? I want to break this down for us today so that we can all be free from performing, which honestly is a really exhausting way to live!
SHAME IS THE SOURCE OF PERFORMANCE
Shame is the belief that we are uniquely and fatally flawed; that we will never measure up to the standard for acceptance and approval. Shame declares that we are doomed for disappointment and disconnection and says, “If others see the real you, they won’t accept you. You are not good enough. You are going to be embarrassed, humiliated, rejected, punished and alone.”
Feelings of insignificance, rejection and unworthiness lead to the life-long pursuit of performing for approval. When we feel “less-than,” it is natural to want to prove the voice of shame wrong. Unfortunately, even our best performances will not silence shame. Rather, performance will just insist on more performance, becoming a ceaseless cycle of falling short of ours, and other’s, expectations. This perpetual push for performance leads to perfectionism; never possessing a sense of well-being until we have satisfied the insatiable standards for approval and acceptance.
It is only when we understand the truth that we are saved by His work, not ours, that we can be set free from the religion of shame and striving. The apostle Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8,9). In other words, no one can achieve approval from God through performance. Grace gives us what we don’t deserve, and could never hope to accomplish through striving for perfection.
Jesus addressed the religious mindset, when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Revival rest is operating out of a sense of worthiness and well-being because of what Christ already purchased for us on the cross. He worked to secure our love, acceptance and approval, so that we don’t have to.“It is finished,” (John 19:30). That doesn’t mean that we don’t work, serve, and pursue excellence. No, grace actually empowers us to fulfill our destiny! Grace enables us to do more work, accomplish more, perform better, and serve faithfully without striving—without working for approval.
Revival rest is:
Working from love rather than for love.
Working from acceptance rather than for acceptance.
Working from approval rather than working for approval.
Working from identity rather than for a destiny.
A NEW WAY OF LIVING
Renouncing the religion of shame is essential to encounter true love, unconditional acceptance, and authentic identity, leading to a destiny of well-being and fulfilled accomplishment. If we want to be free from it, it requires a new way of thinking and believing. I want to encourage you to rest in the grace of God today, released from the slavery of shame and free to rest while you work.
Why not start today on a new page? Let’s get rid of the conditions we place on ourselves like, “If only I did this/ had that/ looked like them/ had their gifting/ etc. then I would be accepted.” If you have any unhealthy “Ifs” running around in your mind then replace them with a confident “I am” statement. Try, “I am accepted/ I am loved/ I am protected/ I am beautiful/ I am confident…”