Breaking Performance Based Christianity Off Our Homes & Churches

Follow the trail of performance based Christianity and you find two factors that have greatly influenced it: your upbringing in the home and your introduction to becoming a Christian.

When raised in a home that is performance driven, you are given love and attention when you achieve. There is little to no reference that gets cultivated on what it means to be affirmed, encouraged and validated, simply because you are a loved child. There’s no culture developed for what love means outside of performance.

Our reference for what unconditional love is should begin in childhood. However, upon reflection, many notice they only got attention when they had an accomplishment to share. Therefore, their value and identity become wrapped up and shaped by chasing those achievements.

Healing the Parent’s Heart

When we become parents, we tend to give out what we received from our own mothers and fathers. Thus revealing our own unhealed wounds and giving rise to our own pain during our parenting years. Most often leading them to put a performance pressure on their child. The parent’s “security” begins to rest on how well their child performs, achieves and makes the family “look.” 

This is a deadly entrapment on the child’s development and value. It also keeps the parents from healing in their own broken issues.

Under this dysfunctional system, a child growing up will use performance to gain a sense of love in the world. Most performance based adults started off living this way when they were a child. They often know of no other way to live. They never had a reference for what unconditional loves is like, so a few “hits” of performance based approval will give a child a high that they will chase all their life.

Two Performance Based Extremes

Out of this performance grid, some become high achievers. Many first borns become prone to this. They use their achievements as markers for validation. Success becomes a way to feel affirmed, even though it never truly satisfies.

Others use bad behavior as a way to gain attention. Rebellion is often a result of pain seeking to get attention through wrong behavior. Parents can make a mistake of getting lost, focusing on the rebellious behavior alone. They lose sight of the fact that underneath all that rebellion is a broken heart that needs relationship and loving connection. Pain resides underneath that rebellion.

The Common Need

We all need to experience love that is consistent, even when our “performance” in life is good or bad. To live healthily, we need to learn how not to link our self-esteem to performance.  

Children need to grow up knowing they are loved, simply because they are loved. When they do great on their grades, love is there. When grades drop, love is still there. It doesn’t mean that should stop trying to get better grades. It just means that being loved does not change.

In a healthy home, relationship is the highest priority, no matter how a child is performing.

Renovating Our Parenting

I believe that becoming a parent is one of God’s most powerful ways to address the broken issues of the heart that need healing. If you pay attention, it’s actually more about you healing than about your child’s issues. Whatever your child is manifesting, we need to see it as an opportunity for you to deal with your heart.

You don’t enhance your parenting by only learning all kinds of parenting techniques. Parenting is enhanced best when you learn to heal and mature the areas of your own heart. That way you bring a more loving, patient and healed heart into your parenting. The best position for a parent is to come from, is a place of “I understand”…. “I have been there…,” because we are then poised to have compassion for a child’s battle and equip them rather than condemn and shame them into performance. 

The key is you as the parent, learning to live more as a loved son or daughter.

I remember when Max was first born, I felt overwhelmed with the fathering responsibilities I wanted to manifest. The performance based living I shed off years earlier came back. I came under this pressure to try and be a “good father.” When Max was showing signs of autism, I quickly experienced emotional burnout, because of everything I tried to be, to help him. I learned quickly that in order to parent my children effectively, I need to daily learn to be a son. Out of my own sonship, is where I parent my children the best.

Performance Based Religion

The second place we learn performance based Christianity is in through our faith upbringing.  Those raised in performance based homes often find churches that reinforce that performance mindset.

The religious culture becomes solely tuned into behavior modification. Discipleship is focused on a program and a set of classes more than relationship with building and growing in sonship with Father God. Children become trained to see rules as the sole focus for relating to God. Follow the rules = God is happy with you. Don’t follow the rules = God is unhappy with you and will withhold His love from you.

Christ did not die on the cross so that we would live with performance pressure all day long.

The modern church is suffering from a performance driven model that has taken over the faith culture. Each week, believers are checking their spiritual performance on their involvement in church, dedication to spiritual disciplines and checking off that they are living right.

Holiness and service for God are both Scriptural, but they are response to what you have received from God. They are not precepts to chase so that God will be happy with you and love you more. When performance based Christianity is healed, we learn to live from the love of God, not for His love. Your works flow from identity, not to try and find an identity. 

The Healing Process

Healing ourselves from the influence of performance based Christianity takes a reintroduction into who God is as our Father. His love needs to be rebuilt as the eternal foundation of our hearts.

The new learning journey is discovering and experiencing the unconditional love of God. At first, it seems too good to be true, but it is real and available to you.

Healing will also involve healing your father and mother lens, so that your references can gain a healthier perspective. How you find love, affirmation and approval needs to be rebuilt.

Most of all, healing performance based living needs an identity renovation. Who you are needs to not be based on what you do anymore.

You are called to live FROM God’s approval, not FOR His approval. He already loves you as His child. It’s time to receive that today and allow Him to heal you.

It’s time the church get back to learning what it means to receive and live in the confidence of what Jesus paid for.

From your home to your church, the transformation will occur when we start investing our lives building up who people are in their identity, loving them as God’s child.

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