Perfect Performers

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:30-32 Many kids today however learn to look excellent on the outside in order to please and to perform. On the inside however they are anxious and discouraged.   They are the perfectionists who invade our schools in growing numbers.  Their very worth depends on looking perfect to the outside world while on the inside they live in a perpetual state of negative evaluation, always striving but never reaching their goals. They learn this behavior both through a culture that extols perfection as well as in homes where they come to believe that performance is connected with whether or not their parents value them. Their world is saturated with images of perfect bodies, perfect faces, perfect hair and nails, perfect make-up and perfect teeth.  Many have been told to set their sights on only the best colleges and the “best” careers,  that their very happiness and worth depends upon being the very best in something. The Christian home is not immune from the debilitating grip of perfectionism. While most Christian parents intellectually know that one’s worthiness is found solely in Christ, they fall prey to inadvertently connecting performance with worthiness for their kids. If we are to actually see our kids become strong achievers, we must move from extolling perfection to seeking after excellence.  The differences may...

Living From the Inside Out

I am 58 today.  In the last decade God’s gift to me has come by way of  regular house cleaning He is doing within, answering my prayer: “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” A humbling joy- filled peace is steadily replacing the cracks and corners where pride, anxiety, and fear once reigned. He has been at it again in this week, dealing with an aspect of my nature that can sneak in and cloud my heart. I am a people pleaser.   As such I can worry too much what others think.  I am breaking free of this tendency but there are times when I still need a stiff scrub brush.  I am not talking about casting off an unselfish life that prioritizes the needs of others.  I am referring to a consuming need to be approved by others resulting in a pressure to perform, that can mandate my decisions. It’s been a unique week.  But then what should I expect after writing about “seeing opportunity in trouble” in the previous blog.  I had an unsettled sense that I should not go to work last Friday, knowing that my oldest daughter was struggling – really struggling- with “hyperemesis gravidarum”, the medical term for relentless vomiting.  I ran up to her home, fed Josiah and Kate breakfast and carted them off to their aunt Stevi’s house before heading to work however, leaving Erin hooked to an IV and medicine pump alone at home. As I headed to work, my emotions were torn.  I wanted to be home with my daughter – a...

Core Strength

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith aretē…..2 Peter 1:5 Aretē, the Greek word for goodness or virtue, is a rare word found only three times in the New Testament. Aretē refers to something YOU ARE before it is something that YOU DO. Aretē is what causes you to do good for absolutely no reason except that God is good and He resides in you: not because you are asked to, or because you will get something for it, or because it will bring you accolades. Aretē is about an inner strength that wells up from within, a moral excellence that results from the miracle of Christ in you. Chrēstotēs on the other hand is about doing good – about kindness expressed in action.  This type of goodness tends to be more attractive because we can see it and we can manage it. Doing good somehow feels more urgent and necessary than seeking deep within us the One who is good.   My daughter, Alisa, was a collegiate swimmer (Go Texas Longhorns!) and much of her training as a 400IM swimmer had to do with developing her core strength. No matter how perfect her arm strokes were or how well she kicked her legs, when her core strength gave out as it sometimes did at the end of a grueling race, her swimming would fall apart.  To do well in a race, she had to be strong from the inside out because the quality of her strokes depended upon the strength of her core.   No amount of effort in the end of a...