If I am the star of the show, superhero or villain, then it maybe time for a dose of humility.
“It’s hard to admit when we might not be awesome at something, but at the same time admit we aren’t complete losers. We are learners. As adults, our pride tries to entertain us assuming we’re know-it-alls. It’s a lie. We’re students for life.” (Bluhm, 2019)
We will begin to see “Back to School” signs in our local stores soon! How does that make you feel? Call me a dork, but I love school supplies and all the preparation that goes into teaching. I teach 7th grade English, and this August will be my second year. I had the privilege of teaching kindergarten for 4 years before I accepted a position in middle grades. The learning curve thrilled me, and I had been earning my master’s degree to attain the education needed, while I worked full-time. I was ready, right?
“Prepared” is not exactly the word I would have used to describe my feelings before school started. Maybe “called”, “all-in”, or “cuckcoo” represented my efforts, but I was definitely in new territory. My first text to my family after I got the position was, “I am so exited about this new English position.” I was off to a wonderful start.
Performance is a sticky god. We know better than to put our worth into how we perform, but it feels so good to perform well; good enough to try again and again. There is a natural and alluring response from others when a job is well done. We assign spiritual value to the positive feelings we experience, and we allow even the flightiest “good job” to confirm our worth.
God wants more for us. Jesus Christ died on the cross for more than a grand showcase of human performance. A very real and debilitating performance trap exists, and it actually is not physically painful. That would be too easy for us to resist. The performance trap works on the “down-low”, and it robs our joy.
So, do we have another option? Yes, and I’ll start by saying that you will never hear me say, “Try harder!” Have you encountered challenges that have simple answers, yet they seem so hard to apply? Well, humility can be like that if you do not have the right perspective. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” This perspective was a game changer for me many years ago. I remember a weight being lifted off of me emotionally and spiritually, and I began to process how I could possibly carry an easy yoke with all of the tragedies I had experienced.
“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. (NIV)
Although, I now mentally understand that Jesus is calling me to humility, gentleness, and rest, sometimes I still try to pick up heavy loads to flex my spiritual muscles. I want to show God that I am listening and trying and that I am “all-in” for Him. When I choose to rely on my own strength, I feel my joy ebbing away. A lack of joy used to be my cue to increase my chocolate intake, withdraw, and muster up the strength to try again, but a little harder next time. Now, I intentionally think about what I am thinking about. If I am the star of the show, superhero or villain, then I know a dose of humility is in order. When I choose the role of student, I can lean in to the heart of Jesus and learn, rather than trying to impress Him.
Rather than performing to attain results we think may impress Jesus, let’s find out what it looks like to live a spirit-led life. Let’s lighten up on ourselves and become students for life. I write this as my beautiful summer flowers at my front door are wilted and brown. It is funny how even plants can make you feel less if your perspective is off. As I looked closely this morning though, I saw an unexpected gift in the middle of my weeds. I learned that one mother bird thought my beautification efforts were the perfect home for her babies. I would choose planting seeds that bring life over pursuing my pleasure any day.
I feel at peace when I choose to be confident in God’s results rather than mine. They always surpass what my performance can achieve, and His ways bring Him glory and bring me joy. This is truly the deepest desire of my soul. He knows my heart, and I am so grateful that His goodness is not dependent on me.
Bluhm, T. (2019, June) 21 Ways to Thrive By 45: Flourish. Retrieved from Holy Bible app