I'm feeling pretty sentimental this week. Five years ago I began Larry Crabb's school of soul care. Sweet memories and great content flowed from that healing week in Colorado Springs.
During one lecture Dr. Crabb stopped speaking, turned to me, and asked a question: "John, you constantly take notes. Why are you writing so much?"
My pencil stopped and so did my heart.
A bit embarrassed I answered, "I don't want to miss anything."
His response: "I'm so curious as to why? Try not to write for a few minutes and see what happens."
I only lasted 10 minutes.
Something still resonates with me about his observation. In short, I tend to over-do things.
I over-swing the tennis racket, over-plan the family trip, over-shoot the basketball, over-fertilized the yard (killed parts of it this year) and over-prepare sermons.
It's like I am over-compensating or over-reaching for some greater purpose.
I'm wondering if there is a connection between over-achieving and under-affirmation?
I think working hard is important to life and existence. Successful businesses and countries are often the product of over-achievement.
Over-achievement can build a civilization but I am not so sure it can build a human identity. We are made for something bigger than that.
We are made to live from God's affirmation and blessing.
I wonder what it would look like to achieve great things from a place of full affirmation in Christ?
Before Jesus did a lick of ministry he rose from the waters of the Jordan and a voice from heaven boomed over him: "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Mt. 3)."
Of course we know that Satan himself challenged that in Matthew 4: show off your stuff, if you are who you say you are over-achieve, reveal your power. Jesus combated the temptation with His Father's words and humility. This is when his ministry began.
In Christ we can claim those affirming words spoken to our tired soul.
My soul is free to achieve not for affirmation but from it.
I am freely released to participate with the bigger work of Christ.
When I fertilize lightly, I participate with bigger elements: the sun and the rain.
When I plan a family trip, I can participate with bigger-than-me circumstances that sets up memorable spontaneity.
When I loosen the sermon outline, I am allowing thoughts to enter my mind through the indwelling Spirit.
When I sit and listen instead of feverishly taking notes, I am allowing the Spirit to burn truth in my mind and heart.
There is a lightness to my over-achievement. I like that. Work hard but from a place of already having the full affirmation in Christ.
May we be restful and thankful for this deep place of blessing in Christ.