Discerning Performance Based Christianity

Performance based Christianity is a counterfeit religious virus that has infected the masses like a plague over the generations. Its contagious effect has infiltrated many church cultures and has kept well-meaning Christians from resting and living in the grace and love of God.  

If you dissect most problems Christians are facing, performance based living is somewhere within the root system of their lifestyle. They may not realize it at first, but a performance based relationship influences their view of God and themselves.

This leads them to live by a code of values and conduct that is built on what they do and how well they do it.

Stuck in Spiritual Slavery

At its foundation, performance based Christianity is built on the mindset of a spiritual slave. In his writings, the Apostle Paul paralleled the opposing differences between slavery and sonship:

Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:7 (NKJV)

From Paul’s time to this day, the church has struggled with making the transition from spiritual slavery into sonship. Masses of believers are still stuck in slavery. They believe in Christ, but they don’t know what it means to receive their adoption as sons. Living out sonship involves a completely different way of thinking and living.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:14-15 (NKJV)

One of the greatest ways we remain in spiritual slavery is to allow performance to infiltrate our thinking, beliefs and behavior. A slave’s identity is based on what he does, because that’s the basis of relationship. A slave sees himself as being there only because of what he does that he can offer. He is there for the sole purpose of doing things and performing for his sense of belonging.  

A son’s identity is never based on what he does, as his identity is imprinted in belonging. He is part of the family, a birthed child into the home who is fully loved and accepted.

A true son is not evaluated on performance, so there is no pressure weighing on you every day.

The Battle Over Your Worth

The battle that increases performance based living is over the issue of your worth. A war is waging over how you find your sense of worth and affirmation.

Is your worth based on what you do today and how well you do it?

If your value, worth and self esteem is based on something you “do,” when that thing you “do” goes up or down, it will automatically trigger you up or down as well. Basing your self-worth on how well you are performing is a bad foundation to build upon.

The Trap of Living as a Constant Doer

Performance based living will condition you to be a constant doer. You will only do, without knowing how to just be.

The constant doer is a role that puts a lot of pressure on you, a pressure to always get things done and move on to the next thing, without building a deeper foundation for worth and love.

On top of this, a layer of perfectionism will pile up. The pressure increases, as you feel that your value comes out of what you do, but also on how well you do it. Therefore you are never at peace. You can accomplish many things in life, but still feel incredibly empty at the end of the day.

Performers end up burning out constantly and seek to fill their emptiness with addictions. They are always exhausted and unfulfilled. Guilt floods their heart about their constant busyness and addictive vices, but they can’t stop the machine of performance. This is why so many people are in the Performance Driven Hamster Wheel.

Religious Performance Evaluation

Performance can infect and contaminate your spiritual life and follow you with a religious evaluation hovering over your head all day long.

When things go wrong, you will easily attribute what you are facing, being 100% tied to what you did or did not do.

For example, I was recently talking to someone who was going through an incredible loss. She shared, “Maybe if I just prayed more.” Her evaluation of her loss led her to think it was solely her fault, because she didn’t pray enough.

Performers always want another “to do” list item to “fix” what they are going through. They are actually uncomfortable with learning how to receive love and live out of sonship. They only know spiritual slavery, so they always need more tasks, even though it doesn’t produce long-term change.

“Maybe if I fasted more….”

“I should go on more missions trips.”

“If I pray longer, then maybe this problems would not happen.”

There is nothing wrong with fasting, praying and going on missions trips. But performers use these as ways to feel better and gain love. They constantly go through various spiritual exercises as a way to find out how to “fix” what they are going through.

Moments of pain and hardship are times to face yourself, lean into love and learn who you are. But performance living will keep you from even looking at that.

Results Over Relationships

The bottom line that performers serve is the goal of achievement and results. It becomes the dominant focus that can easily blur out healthy relationships. Mental and emotional health suffer, while overall relational depth will take a back seat. You don’t have time for meaningful and deep relationships when you are neck deep in performance living.

Spending time with God becomes another chore; a thing you have to do. Most performance based Christians are riddled with guilt when it comes to their relationship with God. They feel guilty that they do not spend enough quality time connecting with God. But when they attempt to connect with God, it’s done in performance pressure, so they walk away unfulfilled and frustrated.

Overall relationship connection gets lost in a sea of religious busyness and to do lists. For most Christians, “the show must go on.”

Losing Who You Are

Performance based busy living will drive you to lose who you really are in the midst of demands and pulls that take you out of the simplicity of sonship.

God is not moved by your busy life. He wants your heart. That takes a totally different posture and flow.

In order to move into sonship, performance cannot be the driving voice in your life. Slowing down and refocusing on who you really are is the key.

Have you forgotten what it means to be a son or daughter who is deeply loved? Not because of what you do, but simply because of who you are?

Did you lose that, or did you never have it to begin with?

Shedding Off Performance Based Christianity

The healing and freedom process begins with establishing a new source for affirmation and worth.

How do you gain a sense of validation? What gives you your sense of worth?

If that worth is not based on you being a loved son or daughter, then your compass is off and needs to be recalibrated. Your sense of love needs to be received from God.

Performers need to slow down and make time to learn what it means to receive love that is not based on what they do or how well they do it. You need relationships that have no connection to a role you fill or what you do for work.

Freedom comes when you are able to relate to people outside of a performing role. Can you go to a gathering and enjoy relationship connection? Or do you wear your performance role everywhere you go?

Letting go of performance does not mean you do nothing. Many times performers look at life as black and white. They see letting go of their crazy lifestyle as becoming a person who does nothing. That it not the case. Freedom means letting go of the driving pressure that performance brings to your life. It means realigning where you get love and validation.

Are you willing to make the change today?

Take the next step.

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