I will admit to be intensely competitive. Like, it’s a problem. I don’t enjoy losing at anything. This has been mostly unhealthy and probably comes from some type of pain in the past… it’s still there. I don’t like to lose at board games, hobbies, or even someone else minding their on business on the interstate. I can spend 100 miles on the road acting like it’s a race… just so you know, the police always win.
However, the past few years I have found an amazing amount of joy in asking myself the question, “Why?” Why am I so desperate to win? What do I have to prove? Why do I sell my self-confidence and personal identity so cheaply?
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul understands that it is so hard for people to separate our need for approval and the need to distinguish ourselves from what we do. Even though our identity should come from our settle confidence in God’s goodness, we attach our identity to what we do and how people perceive it. Paul challenges us to leave the “rat race” of acceptance from the mob and realize there’s joy simply in being rather than doing…
So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.Romans 12:4-6 MSG
Paul is saying that it is enough to be in the Kingdom of God. We don’t have to stand out and be a superstar. Sure, that is given to some. However, if God has not called you to it, you wouldn’t really enjoy it. You may think you would, but you wouldn’t. This reminds me of when someone in our church once said they thought they could do my job as a pastor. They said, “It doesn’t look that hard. You just get up and talk about the Bible on Sunday mornings.” I’m sure they didn’t mean it to sound as brash but, I wanted to test them on this. So, I explained to them what all went into a message on Sunday. Then, I laid out all the other things that pastors do such as leadership management and training, pastoral care, planning, making decisions, organizing, etc, etc, etc. The more I talked, the bigger their eyes got until they said, “No, No, No. I just wanted to get up and talk in front of people on Sunday. That other stuff doesn’t sound fun at all.” I told him that it was fun to me because it was what I was made to do. I had found my place and was doing my best to stay in my lane. He didn’t want to be a pastor. He wanted to have everyone’s attention once a week. There was also a lane for him and we started helping him find it as well.
What about you? Have you found your lane that has nothing to do with the rat race? Have you found what God has shaped you to do that has nothing to do with getting attention from others? How would you live your life if you realized that the only One who really matters already likes you and you have His attention? There’s nothing wrong with being who you are and playing your part in the grand story God is telling. I think we will be surprised with what God measures and rewards when we get to Heaven.