Identity – The Performance Trap

10 10 2008

The newest series at The C.O.R.E. is entitled “Identity: The Search for Significance” which is based on Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance – Student Edition, 2003 [W Publishing – based on The Search for Significance, 1998]. The substance of this post comes directly from or is based on the content of the book.

As has been stated in my last post, Satan has convinced teens of this formula:

Self-worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions

How do we convince them that their self-worth should be based in God’s unending and unconditional love for them?

The first of the lies we are told can be titled The Performance Trap. The Performance Trap says “I must not fail.” It is the false promise that success will bring us ultimate fulfillment and happiness.

How can you identify The Performance Trap?

Listen for something like “I’ll feel good about myself if…

  • “I make the cheerleading squad.”
  • “I earn a spot on the football team.”
  • “I make Eagle Scout.”
  • “I make honor roll.”
  • “I get a part in the school play.”
  • “I make a really high score on my SAT/ACT.”
  • “I get a scholarship to a certain college.”
  • “I lose five pounds.”
  • “I’m able to bench-press 250 pounds.”
  • “I win first place at the science fair.”
  • “I get hired for my ideal summer job.”

What they first need to realize is that – at some point – failure is inevitable, even for the truly great.

Basing your self-worth on how well you perform is setting yourself up for continual frustration.

Some of the syomptoms of The Performance Trap include:

  1. perfectionism – motivation stems from a fear of failure
  2. avoidance of risks – unwilling to do anything they might fail at
  3. anger and resentment – any bit of criticism (even well-intended advice) suggests that we have failed in some way
  4. pride – sometimes disguised as self-confidence, comes from the perfectionist attitude
  5. anxiety and fear – fretfulness occurs when whenever we are put in situations where we sense the strong possibility of failure
  6. depression – failure [especially repeated failure] prompts us to conclude that we are worthless
  7. dishonesty – so scared of even the thought of failure, we might do anything to avoid it
  8. chemical addiction – sends a surefire signal someone does not feel good about themselves, could result from depression

God gives us the solution to The Performance Trap: He made a miraculous exchange – He put all of our sins and failures, our rebellious acts and screw-ups on Christ. He took care of them, so we don’t have to perform. In other words, the pressure is off. God does not love us any less when we screw up, so we don’t have to think less of ourselves either.

According to Romans 12, we should be renewing our minds by exchanging our old ways of thought (i.e. the lies Satan has convinced us of) for the truths of God. With that in mind, here are four correct beliefs that we should be instilling in ourselves and our teens:

  1. My actions (successes or failures) have absolutely nothing to do with Christ’s love for me. [Titus 3:3-5a – At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
  2. If I have an active relationship with God, I am now right with God. [Romans 5:1 – since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.]
  3. If I have an active relationship with God, I have the righteousness of Christ. [II Cor. 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.]
  4. If I have repented and asked for forgiveness, God forgot my past mistakes. [Col 1:21-22 – Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.]

Your life is valuable because God paid a price for you!

Next post: Identity – The Approval Addict




One response

13 10 2008

Brady…this was the message series I was talking about in my blog the other day! I am so glad you are doing this. Kids need to hear this. I am so excited. I will definitely be praying for you and your youth group as your tackle this series.

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