I went to a counselor once who, more or less, told me I had a case of “excessive striving”. Not surprisingly, I was oblivious to what she was saying.
But as I looked at my life, I realized I lived my day-to-day existence nearly always pushing, prompting, nudging, urging, cajoling, nagging or convincing people to respond or act the way I thought was best for them.
People experienced my excessive striving by frequent voicemails, email reminders, hints of “hey you owe me a answer”, or “you know, you should do a, b or c” or an exasperated tone.
I am sure, my undue pressure felt grossly burdensome to my friends and family. I thank God these people did not abandon me in my self-focused relational style. It also created stress in me when people did not respond as I thought was best.
This excessive striving is linked to what the bible calls the “old man” or the “flesh”. We all have these flesh patterns – shadows of our past that have selfish or warped motives. The Greek word for “flesh” is sarx which basically means to live apart from God.
The opposite to my excessive striving is passivity and not thinking you or your ideas count for much. The more passive person may say “well, what difference will my input make….it’s just me after all. I don’t have much to add…my ideas don’t matter much.”
I am now learning that both of these two extremes usually stem from one of two areas:
In my excessive striving, deep down, was a fear that I would fail and that I would be perceived as weak, “less valuable” or of less importance (pride)….so, I’d knuckle down to get you to do WHAT I WANTED NOW!…so I could become valuable and successful in others eyes.
Besides the issue of pride, I was allowing my fear of failure and my desire for success to measure the value and worth I have in life.
Both of these tendencies (withdrawing and excessive striving) are lies. They draw us away from what God says about our value. So what’s your worth? Who or what determines your worth?
What He says about our value and worth are not related to what we perceive about ourselves or not based on our excessive striving or reluctancy to engage.
Here are but a few of the many wildy wonderful things the Bible says about our worth:
- God made us individually: Psalm 139: 13-14 says “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (ESV)
- God make us alive in Christ: Ephesians 2:4 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…”
- God provides for us: Matthew 6: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
- God has plans for us: Jeremiah 29: 11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Christ died for you: Colossians 1:22 “But now, by giving himself (Jesus) completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! (The Message)
May you come to know the Lord’s exceedingly great love toward you and may you find your true worth in Him and not in the unpredictable and short-lived value the world places on us.