What We Do Versus What We Are Worth
Recently, I found myself sitting across from my boss in a meeting to discuss my goals and projects for the upcoming quarter.
“Before we get started, how are you doing?” she asked kindly, looking into my eyes.
I hesitated a moment.
“Actually, I feel really weary,” I confessed. Tears filled my eyes. “I just feel so weary.”
I had been telling myself my weariness was normal, the result of a busy season at work, my husband’s health issues and upcoming surgeries, my uncertainty about whether I was making the right decisions for my kids’ schooling, and the general fatigue we’ve all felt after a year of navigating COVID. And while these things were all true, I realized there was a little more to it than that.
I’ve always considered myself a goal-oriented person and normally this is a good thing. I can see what needs to happen next and take the necessary steps to get there. I enjoy looking into the future, imagining what can be, and going after making it a reality.
But sometimes that desire to get things done can slowly morph into “it all depends on me.” Sometimes avoiding the pressure of the next achievement can leave me feeling lost. And sometimes the reason I feel weary is not just outside circumstances but inner patterns of thinking that rob my peace and joy in Christ.
Here are some truths to remember about our worth and how it relates to what we do or do not accomplish.
Truth #1: My worth is not determined by what I do.
It’s easy to feel like we just need to work smarter, be more organized and get our act together a little better. That’s where I found myself while sitting across from my boss.
I’ve been a Christian for many years. I know that my worth doesn’t come from what I do. But sometimes I live as though it does. Sometimes I feel like I need to do a great job, solve all the problems, have all the answers, and make the right decisions.
In his book Search for Significance, Robert S. McGee talks about what he calls “The Performance Trap” where we think we must meet certain standards to feel good about ourselves. Instead, he says, our true value is based on what God’s word says is true of us.
In my case, I needed to focus back on what I already knew was true: my significance rests not on how successful I am at work or whether I make all the right decisions for my kids’ educational futures but on what God says about me.
Truth #2: My worth is not determined by what others think of me.
Many years ago I had a friend who never seemed satisfied with our relationship. At the time, I had two small children and my husband worked long hours. Although my friend and I got together regularly, she often complained that I didn’t prioritize our friendship.
After receiving a terse email from her about yet another disappointment with me, I realized that no matter how much time we spent together, it was never going to be enough.
I had to be comfortable with the fact that she was probably always going to be disappointed with what I could give. Instead of over-extending myself, I just needed to be honest with her and let her move toward other friends who could give her the time and energy she wanted. It wasn’t easy to do at the time but brought me so much freedom in the end.
I don’t like the thought of letting others down, but the truth is that there’s no way to make everyone around us happy. Trying to do so is exhausting and wearying.
I needed to be reminded of the peace that comes when I simply focus on being faithful to God and trying to please him.
Truth #3: My worth is not determined by how well things go for me.
Our family has been homeschooling for many years. Before I had kids, I was confident I would never homeschool. But a few years later, I felt God’s unmistakable leading to homeschool our daughter in kindergarten. Here we are, eleven years later, still homeschooling.
On our good days, it’s easy for me to feel confident that I’m making the right choice. The kids are learning, things are running smoothly, and I feel good about our decision.
But on the days when they don’t seem to be grasping a concept well or I’m struggling to figure out how to help them with a weak area, I wonder if I’ve made the wrong choice and am messing up my kids’ future.
In his book Replenish, Lance Witt talks about life as a pastor. “…my only job was to play my part and look only for his [God’s] approval. At the end of the day, he will evaluate my life not on the world’s definition of success but on his definition of faithfulness” (Witt, 100).
Instead of worrying about my kids’ future, I can trust that if I am faithfully following God’s leading, He will perfectly prepare them for whatever He has in store for their future.
So once we determine the truth behind these false beliefs, how can we get rid of these harmful patterns?
Here are a few simple ways to break the cycle and remember the truth:
Mediate on what God says about you.
The Bible tells us about our amazing identity in Christ and the freedom we have when we embrace God’s truth about us.
• Because I am in Christ, I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
• I am valuable to God (Matthew 10:29-31).
• I have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ and have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2).
• Nothing can separate me from God’s love (Romans 8:39).
• I am forgiven (Romans 4:25).
Focus on being faithful.
I often can’t control the outcome of a situation. I can try my best to make wise choices and get good counsel but at the end of the day, there are many things that are simply out of my control.
But I can be faithful. Whether something works out well or is a big flop, I can rest in the fact that I am following God’s leading as best I can and that he works all things for my good (Romans 8:28).
At the end of the day, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made for His purpose (Psalm 139:14). God sees our worth in a way that goes far beyond our earthy accomplishments, other’s opinions, and how things are working out for us. When we go through those weary seasons, we can take comfort in our identity in Christ, resting in the knowledge of our great and constant worth in our Heavenly Father’s eyes.
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