I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Do you ever feel like you have something to prove? Whether it’s proving yourself to be a good parent by only feeding your kids organic sugar-free snacks and sending them to the right school, or working overtime to prove to your boss that you’re a worthwhile team member, especially after your performance was down the previous quarter. The temptation to prove yourselves to others is always before us.
Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the need to prove myself. Not so much with where I am right now, but where I’ll be going. Not that long ago I excepted a new position as the senior pastor of a church in Milwaukee. Over the last month my mind has been spinning with all sorts of ideas for the future of this church, as well as thoughts about what opportunities this new adventure will bring. But at the same time, I also find myself feeling anxious.
What if I don’t measure up to their expectations? What if my first batch of sermons fall flat? What if I’m not cut out for this like I think I am. What if…? What if…? What if…? These thoughts tempt me to believe that I have to prove to them that I’m a good pastor.
Just last week I was meeting with a friend and fellow pastor in the Atlanta area. He was curious to hear the story about how my wife and I discerned to make the move to Milwaukee. After sharing my story he said, “On my way over I was praying, ‘God is there anything you would have me say to Bryan?’”
Turns out there were two things. He said, “One, soak this up. Enjoy the anticipation of what’s next in this new season of life and ministry. And two, know that you have nothing to prove.” Those words resonated so loudly in my heart I knew they were from the Lord.
For me, fighting the need to prove myself is a regular temptation. It usually comes from either overconfidence, thinking “I’m going to show these people just how amazing I am.” Or insecurity, believing, “I’m not good enough” and therefore, I feel the need to overcompensate.
Being motivated by these two thoughts drains my mental, emotional and spiritual energy tanks. It leaves me running on fumes with virtually nothing left to invest in other people. And at it’s core, it’s a result of not believing the Gospel.
Paul reminds us at the end of Galatians 2 that our performance no longer defines us, whether it’s stellar and out-of-this-world-amazing, or abysmal and pitiful. The most bedrock reality of our lives is that it’s Jesus, and His life in us, that defines who we are. Therefore, we have nothing to prove. We no longer live. It’s all about Him.
So whether it’s in parenting, job performance, or any other area where you feel the need to prove yourself, believing that Jesus accepts you, frees you from the need to validate yourself. Resting in his love fills your tanks and enables you to serve and invest in other people. And at the end of the day, when people know that you love them and are willing to do what you can to help them, they don’t even think about evaluating. They look for any and every opportunity to spend time with you. They bend over backwards to keep your around because people are longing for people who are encouragers in the midst of world filled with discouragers.
Therefore, when it comes to stepping into a new community, a new job, or a new situation, we don’t have to worry about proving who we are. Rather, we should simply rest in who God is are and love those in our midst.
1. In what areas of your life have you felt tempted to prove yourself?
2. What prevents your from believing that you are no longer defined by your performance?