Ever had one of those days where you accomplish so much, and yet it’s not enough? Your day is full of hard work and achievements with hardly any time to rest, and yet when it gets late at night you can’t sleep because you feel like you haven’t done enough?
Maybe for some of you it isn’t days – it’s weeks, years, or entire seasons of your life that get filled with so much accomplishment and even praise from others and yet it never feels like enough.
I had one of those days recently. My day started early and ended late and was full of work I had done for my own agenda as well as others. There’s nothing more fulfilling than giving yourself for another. And yet at the end of the day all I could think about was what didn’t get done.
Because I’m the contemplative type I took some time to ask myself why. Why was I depriving myself of rest? Why couldn’t I find satisfaction in the work I had done? Why wasn’t it enough?
It occurred to me that I still seek God’s approval, which was not necessarily new information. Perfectionism is an old enemy for me, and I have managed in past years to overcome a lot of habits of perfectionist thinking that used to drain me, but some old habits die harder than others.
That wasn’t the big revelation. The big revelation for me was how pointless it is for me to even try working for God’s approval. As a Christian, God’s approval of me is not based on anything I’ve done, but on what Christ has done. When God looks at me, He sees Christ. He sees everything that Christ accomplished in His life and in His death and in His resurrection.
There is no point in me working for God’s approval, because since His approval of me is based on the work of Christ I can never fail so badly that I lose that approval. My failures can never outweigh Christ’s accomplishments. The only reason for performing for approval would be if I hoped to earn more approval than I already have by performing better than Christ did, which is also impossible, at least for me.
The conclusion? Well obviously to sit on my ass all day and play video games until I die choking on a Cheeto and God says “Well done, good and faithful servant.” No, but actually with the pressure of approval off the table I find I’m in a better position to get work done. If I’m no longer worried about whether or not my work will get me approved, I’m free to do the work God has for me just for the sake of the work itself, and how I can help others. And I generally find that’s when I’m the most productive anyway.