8 Keys to Break Out of Performance Based Christianity

Falling under the yoke of performance based Christianity can happen so easily, but many overcoming believers are saying, “Enough is enough. I want freedom!” The rise of people shedding off the toxicity of performance living is growing, as more believers are receiving what Jesus truly paid for.

When you are raised with performance as a primary motivator, freedom can feel quite foreign. The life of freedom can seem so unfamiliar. To some it feels too good to be true.

I know this for certain: freedom is available. Freedom is possible.

Many have been writing to me, sharing their journeys of how performance based Christianity owned so much of their life. But they are taking their freedom back, one step at a time.

Breaking Through the Culture

If you want to live in the freedom of grace that Jesus paid for, get ready for the performance ridden culture to push back. Performance is ingrained into the social mores. People don’t know how to live without it.

It’s so easy to live under the yoke of performance. Even though Jesus said we can take on His yoke, which is easy and light; void of performance pressure, masses still opt to live under pressure.

A New Lifestyle

As soon as you wake up, performance is waiting for you to take the bait. So in order to experience freedom, you must realize that transformation involves both a heart change and lifestyle change. It has to be weeded out layer by layer.

Allow me to share some keys to learn when it comes to freedom from performance based Christianity.

1. Discern where performance has had an influence on your life.

At the end of the day, we do all of these things to feel loved and belong. Everyone carries a cry in the heart that says “Do you love me? Do you accept me?”

This is ok, because we were wired for love. The problem is that rejection has hijacked that need. Therefore we look to fill our need to be loved and validated in unhealthy ways.

So get honest.

In what areas of your life do you realize that performance has become a dominant force of influence?

Follow the pressure and you will find where performance has an influence in your life. Where does it show up the most? Work? Church? Your personal life with God? In your busy schedule? Is your parenting highly performance based?

Where do you find yourself burnout out often? Where does tension seem to follow you the most? Where do you often feel the most condemned when you evaluate your life?

If you’re honest, you will find the patterns rather quickly. But don’t do this under condemnation, because it will only drag you into unproductive guilt and shame. This is not about any of that garbage. This is about you getting free from what has infected your grace and love relationship with God.

You may also want to ask, “Where do I get my sense of validation and identity from? What seems to have the biggest influence on my self-esteem and sense of well being?” If you address these questions, you’ll identify the pattern.

Once the lights come on and discernment opens up, a whole new world of freedom becomes available.

2. Take a stand against performance based living.

There are some reasons why performance based living is not only unhealthy, it’s destructive. If you really think about it, performance based spirituality is fueled by sin and the enemy’s kingdom. There are some important reasons why I bring this up.

The first reason is that performance based living does not involve rest. The more you perform, the more energy is stolen and the less at peace you become.

The second reason is that performance can become a place of idolatry. An idol gets in the way of us receiving from God fully. Something else is taking a place that only God can fill. Performance creates an idol of looking for the approval of others as a core source. When we live in performance, a busy-pressure filled life takes the place of intimacy with God.

The third reason performance is of sin, is because it is all based on pressure. God is not a God of pressure. He is a God of relationship. Everything flows out of growing relationship with Him based on His grace and love for you.

Performance keeps a weight on your shoulders. It defuses faith and trust, while placing a burden of results on your shoulders. You then become conditioned to think that the weight of life weighs all on you.

Performance removes yielding, waiting and trusting. The emphasis lies more on the “hustle” you can stir up and maintain.

Romans 14:23 says, “whatever is not of faith is sin.” Performance pressure defuses your faith, keeping you from the confidence that God is working in and through you. When performance is broken off, you enter into a rest and trust that relieves you of pressure. Your energy revives and your ability to get refreshed soars.

3. Die to the lure of achievement and accomplishments as your core source of validation.

There is nothing evil about success and achievement. But if you are empty of love and don’t know who you are, it will so easy to get sucked into the vortex of worldly achievement and success as your primary source. It will drive your life.

Performance based living is betting on the fact that you will foam at the mouth anytime an opportunity comes to be noticed by your success.

This may sound odd, but sometimes the worst thing that can happen to some performers is for them to attain high amounts of success. The skyrocket of money, fame or influence hard wires their self-esteem to something that cannot sustain or fulfill their heart’s longing.

Living for achievement is exhausting. One of the greatest complaints of modern day people is their constant fatigue. Everyone is tired! And one of the prevailing reasons is that we are living in a burnout lifestyle. It is even admired in many business circles. Performance is a driving force to pile up endless things in your life that keep you spinning for something that will not provide fulfillment and wholeness.

Beware of the driving narrative that tells you achievement or looking successful is the key to life. It gets attention, but when it is the main thing, it will lead you to a dead end.

If achievement and accomplishments are your main source of love, identity and validation, then it’s time to let it go as a core treasure of your life. Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and let everything else fall into its place.

4. Realign your source of love and validation.

So where are you getting your love from? Where are you getting your value from? How do you feel confident in who you are?

When it comes to breaking off performance based living, you cannot patch the holes in the wall. You must go to the foundation. I call it the “everything’s.”

When you allow God to rebuild your foundation, you revisit the core precepts that get distorted when you become a performer.

I attached so much of what I did to my identity, that I had no idea who I was apart from those achievements. It took a mental health breakdown for me to realize that performance was ruling my life. I pray it doesn’t take that to awaken you to the deception of performance based Christianity.

God gave me a simple exercise. Everyday, before I ran out the door, I sat at the top of my stairs and quieted my heart for just a few moments. I closed my eyes and imagined what my day would look like if I was completely loved, accepted and validated by God. In that posture, I began to let go of tying that need to people. I learned to reset my compass and listen to a new voice of love and approval.

5. Get into grace.

To those walking into healing and freedom regarding performance, your discipleship journey is all about learning to be loved and live in grace. What performance has stolen is how you receive love and the basis by which you feel secure.

Grace places your foundation on someone else’s sacrifice–specifically what Jesus paid for. The performers still have a yoke of self-righteousness and self-effort that weighs on them. The exchange for grace needs to become a heart revelation.

Today’s the day to take off that yoke and get into the grace relationship that awaits you.

6. Practice breaking agreement with pressure.

Performance based Christianity cannot have a hold on you when you release yourself of pressure. Pressure is a key ingredient to performance.

You will have to prepare your heart. There is a spiritual resistance against you entering into the rest of God loving and validating you. It needs to be a regular practice of yours to renounce pressure and cast it off your life.

At first, I had to renounce pressure 24 hours a day, until it became more a way of life. I actually say out loud on a regular basis, “I will not serve pressure. There is no pressure. God has not put pressure on me.”

This comes into play when I speak and teach. I have a common ritual I engage that helps ground me into who I am and renounces pressure. I say the following statement.

“God, You love these people I am speaking to more than I could ever love them. You know exactly what they need. You will work beyond what I say and do, so I trust that You are here to work through me. You love me, so I don’t have any pressure on me. There is no pressure. I chose to enjoy this moment and rejoice over how You will use me. The pressure’s off.”

7. Learn who you really are, apart from what you do.

Shedding off a performance based living will cause you to face yourself. For most, it will lead you to realizing you have no clue who you are.

That’s ok. Don’t panic. This is normal for recovering performers.

But they key is that you will need some time to rediscover who you really are. Most people need a sabbatical or some time off away from their performance based grind to find out who God really says they are.

This will involve learning to be loved, simply as God’s child. Not because you achieved some great feat or accomplished something impressive. Many will need to realize that they are overcompensating for personal brokenness by becoming driven performers.

A detox is needed.

It can be painful at first. But there is a glory to be revealed as you find out the simple power of who you are as God’s child, apart from the nagging pressure of performance.

8. Release the results of life into God’s hands.

When you let go of the results, the bondage can’t own you. It’s the ultimate place of trust when you let go of performance pressure and allow God to be in charge.

Interestingly enough, I find that many performers who allow God to heal their hearts and detox performance pressure, actually “perform” better.”

This may sound like a paradox, but when performance is no longer your lord, your heart and mind is free to live fruitfully, God’s way. Anger gets diffused. Peace is more real. You get to actually enjoy each moment, rather than rushing from performance to performance.

Many can’t see this, because we are taught to do everything in whatever strengthen and might we can muster up. The driving thought is, “this is all on me.”

When you let go of performance, you learn that relationship is the highest priority, not the drive for constant results that we come under. Recovering performers have to realize that throughout the constant drive, the blessing of daily intimacy gets lost. Not because you are not “good enough,” but because the buzz of constant doing keeps you from the blessing of “being.”

Stop Performing and Start Practicing

Getting out of performance is not an excuse to live passive and do nothing. It’s about changing the motivating force. When you get out of performance, the pressure is off. Therefore, you can release yourself to “practice” living as a fully loved child of God.

This takes learning, practice and patience. You get to say, “Today, I’m practicing who I am. I am working this out. I am learning as I go.”

Living From Approval

What’s the difference? I’m living from approval, not for approval.

I’m living from approval. I’m approved today. God you love me. There’s nothing I can do today that’s going to change it. Nothing.

When I receive His love, it moves me in faith through that love to act. When His love flows in me by faith, there is a flow to it. Energy flows and grace manifests. There is refreshment in the midst of the journey.

There is nothing I need to earn. If there are problems and hardships, this is the time to practice my sonship. When things get harder, it’s not the time to perform harder. This is the time to lean into the Father’s love for you and who He says you are.

Practice living out of who you already are, rather than living your whole life trying to prove your worth and value.

What do you do every day? Be who you are. Be confident in that. Focus on identity and flow out of that.

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