The Performance Trap

03 March 2021

Confession…public speaking makes me super nervous! I love people, and I love being able to share the amazing truths of Scripture and how God is working in people’s lives, but my need to perform and come across looking like I have it all put together often gets in the way of being able to enjoy the moment.

A couple of years ago it was my turn to share the Church Life announcements on a Sunday morning. I had memorized the list of announcements and as I started to share about one particular event, Pastor Dennis called out from the front row, “February, not September.” I laughed nervously and tried to regain my composure, but it all went downhill from there. I proceeded to share more wrong dates and details until the audience was laughing with me. After a painful three minutes, I started to walk off stage then recalled that I had missed one last announcement. I returned to the mic and said, “Oops, I forgot… the Alzheimer’s Support Group will be held…” With this, the audience roared into laughter. What did I miss? I knew that I totally butchered the announcements, but was it really that funny?

As I made my way to the foyer, the irony of what had just happened started to set in. I was so concerned with my own performance that I completely missed the humor of the situation and my deep need for approval had caused me to not experience the joy of the laughter and of just being real.

We have to ask ourselves the question, “who determines our value?” If we allow unpredictable human beings to determine our belovedness then we will constantly be striving to be and do what we think people desire. The sad reality is that when we spend our energy performing, we may please some but not others. We also may unintentionally communicate that perfection, our own standard, is the standard that we have for others. When we embrace the truth of whom God says we are, his precious beloved children, we recognize that no amount of perfect performance can make us any more loved. In his book, “Abba’s Child”, Brennan Manning says, “Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence. It is not merely a lofty thought, an inspiring idea, or one name among many. It is the name by which God knows us and the way He relates to us.”

Scripture tells us often about God’s immense love for us as his precious creation. This love is not based on our performance, but rather on whom God says we are. In Isaiah 43, God declares, “I have called you by name and you are mine”. Jeremiah 3 tells us that the Lord has “loved us with an everlasting love.” And Jesus, in John 15 says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.”

Ask yourself today who your audience is. Are you performing for the approval of man or are you living out of the freedom of being a chosen, loved child who was created perfectly by the master of the universe? Choose today to live in that love!

Lynette Fuson
Director of Soul Care & Counseling