I had an amazing time at Hillsong Conference a few weeks ago. It was uplifting, encouraging and enlightening. To try and carry my sense of wonder into my everyday life, I have changed my morning routine. I no longer listen to the radio in the morning as I get ready and drive to work – I listen to podcasts. I listen to Pastor Brian Houston’s podcast occasionally anyway (I love that man), but I’ve been subscribed to a few others with good intentions, but never listened.
It’s been such a good habit to cultivate – in my connect group recently we talked about tithing our time and giving the first and best part of your day to God. Best will in the world, that just doesn’t happen for me (I never get up on time, and am always slightly running behind in the mornings). I read my bible every night before bed, and I pray throughout my day – but I felt like I should be doing something in the morning. This new little routine is really helping me to strengthen my roots in God’s word every morning.
In doing this, I’ve accidentally come across a bit of a theme. It started at Conference and has continued through to my morning podcasts.
Today I finished work on a low. Not because I’d done anything wrong, or I’d had a bad day (in fact my KPIs have been consistently high for the 3rd day in a row), or because my boss had brought me up on anything. From an outsider looking in – today was the same as any other day. But I felt differently about it.
We keep track of our KPIs on a spreadsheet – we input our own figures for our manager to review. As I entered mine, I saw the girl who does a similar role to mine had higher scores, and she had been doing other things part of the day – so she was doing better than me, whilst spending less time doing it. I couldn’t help myself: I compared myself to her.
I’ve heard three messages from three different pastors in the past couple of weeks, and I pulled myself up on the way I felt about this. I wasn’t about to allow myself to wallow in self-pity. Here are the three things I’ve learned:
- You are running your own race – no one is running the same path as you (Craig Groeschel)
Craig Groeschel delivered a life changing message at Conference about running your race. In his wisdom, he observed that you can love your home – until your friend remodels his, then you hate your shack. He pointed out that the fastest way to kill something special is to compare it to something else; that wherever comparison begins, contentment ends.
You see comparison either makes you feel superior or inferior, and neither one of those labels does God put on you, and there’s no way to further the kingdom of God with that mentality. Jesus wanted to make sure His disciples (and us!) knew how He felt about them comparing each other against each other:
“Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved [John] following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”
Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You – follow me.” That is how the rumour got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?”
John 21: 21-23 (Message Translation)
Jesus wanted to make it super clear – what does it matter what happens to him (or her)? What does it matter if her KPIs are higher? Why does it matter if he lives longer? What does it matter if she learns quicker than you? What’s that to you?
There is not enough success in the world to satisfy me – I know that, and yet I was still looking for it. Am I really going to allow my worth be defined by a number on a spreadsheet?
I’m a crazy competitive person. I used to get a little aggressively so in team sports at school. But that’s another story for another time. I do everything within my power to do the best I can at anything I try. I give my all – and then a little bit more. So when I see myself failing, I really beat myself up about it.
Erwin’s point is that if you want to be the best in the world – why do you need to compete against other people? Your measure to get here (wherever here is for you) shouldn’t be against others, it should be against yourself.
It’s okay to have ambition – as long as you are striving to do your best to lay it at the feet of God. It is okay to strive and to do your best when you’re not doing it for your own vain and selfish ambitions – but for Jesus. It is about your motivation behind your actions – if your motivations are Godly, then that is good ambition.
David upped his game as a shepherd. He pulled a lamb from the jaws of a lion – he chased down a bear to rescue a single sheep. (1 Samuel 17:34-36) How many shepherds do you think did that? Chased down the one to such an extent? We should be redefining our every day – in Jesus name. Not for anyone else, but to give our best, and then some, to demonstrate our best every day for Jesus. In doing that – there is no failing, because your best is all Jesus wants (and He is very quick to forgive when you stumble or fall – quicker than I am about myself).
Steven made an amazing claim – he doesn’t understand how anyone who has faith in Jesus can have a confidence crisis. To have a crisis of confidence means to have a doubt in your identity, and to have a doubt in your identity, as a Christian, means you doubt the abilities of Jesus Christ, because He is alive in you. WOW.
This is my confidence: He has never failed me yet. God has done incredible things in my life – like mind blowing, insanely incredible things – and I need to remember these in times when I feel defeated, that not only is God on my side, He has not failed me or left my side once. He’s not going to start now.
Even when I do lack confidence, that is not going to be the death of my calling. I know that when I doubt, God doesn’t. He has got my back, He is in my corner, and when I sit down through lack of confidence – He who is in me is greater than that opposing me. He is bigger than my problems, than my fears, than my doubts. He has got me.
I will always have a day when I leave work feeling like I’m not good enough because I looked at others and compared myself against them. I will always doubt my abilities, doubt what I am capable of. But I will never stop believing in the one who has my back in every fight. Listening to amazing pastors like the men above (the links are to the podcasts for you to listen – Craig Groeschel’s isn’t available unfortunately) really helps me to know (and remember) that my identity is in Christ, and when I have a crisis in confidence, it’s because I’ve forgotten why I do what I do – and I need a gentle reminder (I’m only human after all).