At age 19, I began to run in the “Fear of Failure” marathon. Like any serious runner, it motivated me to strive to always do more. I compared my success to others keeping a record of who was better and who was worse than I. Self-criticism fueled my relationship with God, with people and my work. This marathon eventually produced so much anxiety that it depleted my body of serotonin. Like a runner who “hits the wall” and can’t finish the race, I hit the wall of depression.
Fear of failure is a common malady. The lie behind this is: “I will have value if I succeed but I will be less valuable if I fail”. Value is a God-given need. Yet, most of us find ourselves trying to meet this need our way instead of God’s way, which usually ends in conflict and frustration.
Our way is to train our minds to equate our value with our performance. We think that good performance equals greater value and vice-versa. God’s way is to equate our value with what He was willing to give to bring us into His family. He gave the most precious possession He had when He gave His Son to die in our place. Romans 8:32 says, “Seeing that He spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not through Him freely give us all things.”
Let me put it this way. It is God’s performance which gives us value, not our performance.
This is actually cool because it liberates us from the weight of performance based value so we can live from value based performance. And we do this best when we are depending on Jesus Christ to perform through us by asking Him to live His life through us daily, and believing He is.”
I recently ran in my first 5K trail race. I thought it was just a fun run until a few days before. I run trails for fitness and wellbeing with no desire to compete. When I found out it was an actual timed race, I said to my wife, “Oh no! I didn’t want to run in a race.” Then I told her I was just going to have fun. When the race started, I had no ambitions of winning nor was I afraid of losing. I simply wanted to finish the race without stopping! As I approached the finish line, I couldn’t catch a 10 year old boy but I finished. I was so surprised when they later announced that I came in 3rd place for my age group. I almost fell to the ground laughing! Because my value is in Christ and not in my performance whether running or otherwise, I can joyfully exclaim, “I’m number 3! I’m number 3! I’m number 3!”
Rest in your value in Christ today and go perform with Christ living through you. You’ll be a much better employee, employer, parent, spouse and friend who can actually influence your world for God’s Kingdom.