Is Being “Driven” Killing Our Emotional Health?

People all over the world take great pride in being “driven.” Although there is great reward for diligence, hard work and persistence, drivenness can take passionate pursuit and condition us to live under an unhealthy pressure that steals the joy of life.

For those who lack identity and a sense of worth, chronic drivenness and striving will flood in to give them a sense of worth.

There is nothing wrong with being motivated, but drivenness has stolen the biblical value of living in rest and yielding to the voice of God.

God Has Not Call us to Driven Living

The Lord has not called us to become driven people, but people who are led by the Spirit of God. There is a major difference between being led and being driven.

Drivenness is defined by having a compulsive or urgent quality. Those two words, compulsive and urgent, are very key in identifying this stronghold. Compulsive speaks of the addictive nature of drivenness and busyness. We get a high out of compulsively jumping from one activity to the next, and there is a dopamine rush that comes with filling our lives this way. Urgent speaks of pressure, which is how fear pushes us into a stress filled lifestyles.

The problem is, the more hurried we are, the less likely we are to hear God’s voice, deal with the more important issues of our heart and experience life to the fullest.

Driven vs Being Led

Satan drives us. God leads us and there is a major difference. The key lie that drivenness stands on is that we have to use everything in our power to perform in order to earn love. We can give into the mindset that says, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

When we feel that we have to earn the love and approval of others, drivenness trains us that we have something to prove all the time. We feel compelled to prove to others that we are worth something and of value through our activities and accomplishments.

Satan drives us. The Holy Spirit leads us.

We very rarely ever meet a busy and driven person that is truly satisfied by love in their heart. They are often empty and miserable. And they lack the ability to connect relationally from the heart. Even those who have reached incredible mountain tops of accomplishment can be quite unhappy inside.

Drivenness and busyness take root in those trying to feel significant. They are poor substitutes. In our endless pursuit for success and achievement, we move past the heart issues that bring true belonging and significance in life. We are becoming faster and technologically smarter by the second, while also becoming very relationally dumb and empty in our hearts.

As quoted by John Eldredge in his book, “Waking the Dead,” Gerald May says, “By worshiping efficiency, the human race has achieved the highest level of efficiency in history, but how much have we grown in love?”

Drivenness creates endless distractions which, in all honesty, we have been trained to love and enjoy. We long for deeper things, but we settle for the dopamine rush of instant and shallow tasks and pursuits. With a quick flurry of activity, we are kept from dealing with ourselves. We also become too distracted to let God work in our hearts, lacking time for marinating on His Word and patient waiting in His presence. One thing is certain when it comes to busyness and drivenness; God doesn’t work according to our rushed lifestyle.

A Counter Culture to Heaven

Culture gives recognition to driven people, which keeps the dysfunction going. Rarely are we taught to live by the pace of heaven. We are subtly taught to take everything into our own hands. Burn the candle on both ends. Trash your body by overworking it over and over again.

Driven slaves become extremely competitive with their peers, measuring their self-worth according to how others appear. If the person is a pastor, they will always compare their church with other churches. A mom will compare herself to other moms, a business owner with other people in similar businesses, etc.

In some arenas, you won’t go far in ministry unless you are extremely driven. I am not in any way advocating passivity or doing nothing in the name of waiting. Growing into your full potential involves a lot of personal participation and work. The spirit behind what we are doing must be realized. Are we being led by God day by day, or do we have a nagging, driven mindset at each turn?

Jesus Example

Jesus was tempted by the crowds to become driven, to make things happen at the demand of others. He was often living, however, in a manner that was counter cultural to this mindset. He would heal someone miraculously and the crowd would rejoice. Good moment to get your ministry name out there!

Forgive me, but that is the moment where most people in ministry would launch their web sites and get their ministry banners printed. Yet, our Savior would often walk away and get alone in those moments. Why? Because He walked according to the order and timing of heaven, not the demand and pace of the mob.

You would constantly see the disciples asking, “Where did Jesus go?” They would often look for Him and find Him alone, speaking to the Father and getting instruction, or simply refreshing His heart and remaining grounded. In addition, when our Lord was tempted in the wilderness, Satan attempted to challenge His identity. Each round basically spoke words of drivenness, saying, “Prove yourself” as he taunted, “If you are the Son of God…”

Jesus walked according to the order and timing of heaven, not the demand and pace of the mob.

Assessing the Damage

There are many people who carry a burden of performance and drivenness their parents placed on their shoulders. Even though they may be 30, 40 or 50 years old, the unrelenting pressure is still there.

Some nations, like Japan, have drivenness so deeply engrained into their culture that they have people dropping dead from obvious overwork. This is so wide spread they actually have a medical term for this. It is called Karōshi, which can be translated as death from overwork. This occurs often enough that the nation of Japan records these mortalities separately. Usually tied into these deaths are heart attacks and strokes, two diseases that are proliferated by driven lifestyles.