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Are You Caught in the Performance Trap?
Pressures of life can creep up on us often undetected. Find out if you're caught under a pressure to perform that leads to exhaustion.

Without realizing it, many of us are living under tremendous pressure to perform, pressure that God never intended. Sometimes becoming a Christian can even "sanctify" this tendency rather than free us from it.

… you are already accepted, already loved.

The first step to living under grace, not guilt, is realizing how performance-driven we really are. Read the statements below and honestly assess how much each one applies to you (i.e., usually, sometimes, seldom, never).

  1. Tension builds within me when I think of all I have to do.
  2. I find myself wanting to correct people on minor points, or actually correcting them.
  3. I would feel guilty if I stayed home from a meeting or activity just because I was tired.
  4. I avoid doing things I'm not good at.
  5. I get embarrassed when a family member makes a mistake in front of others.
  6. When my work is judged "average," I feel like I've failed.
  7. It upsets me when someone else wins an award or receives recognition that I feel I deserved.
  8. I tend to focus more on what I did wrong than on what I did right.
  9. I have difficulty saying no when someone asks me to do something for them, or feel guilty when I do say no.
  10. I feel badly about myself when I meet someone who accomplishes more than I do.
  11. If my child messes up, I tend to blame myself.
  12. I feel guilty about things on my "to do" list that are left undone.
  13. It is very important to me to have the right answer.
  14. If some part of my life isn't going well, I try to figure out what I am doing wrong.
  15. When I look at how inconsistent I am in the spiritual disciplines, I feel that God must be disappointed in me.

All of the above can be symptoms that a person has not fully grabbed hold of the amazing grace God offers. If you found yourself checking "usually," or even "sometimes," you've probably picked up the idea somewhere along the line that you have to do the right things to be valued, accepted and loved. And you may be exhausted from the effort.

There's very good news. You don't have to live this way! In God's eyes, you are already accepted, already loved. You can be free from the voices within that tell you you're not doing enough. You can be free from the heavy burden of trying to "measure up."

There is liberating truth in Jesus' invitation in Matthew 11:28-30: "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."

Originally published in the Northern Light Magazine, August/September 1999




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