Boy trapped inside wall of trophies

The Performance Trap


Most of us are unaware of how thoroughly Satan has deceived us. He has led us blindly down a path of destruction, making us captives of our inability to meet our standards consistently and slaves of low self-esteem. Satan has shackled us in the chains that keep us from experiencing the love, freedom, and purpose of Christ.

In Colossians 2:8, Paul warns:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Colossians 2;8

Through His Spirit, we can challenge the indoctrinations and traditions that have long held us in guilt and condemnation. We can then replace those deceptions with the powerful truths of scripture.

Consciously or unconsciously, all of us have experienced the feeling that we must meet certain arbitrary standards in order to attain self-worth. Failure to do so threatens our security and significance. Such a thread, real or perceived, results in the fear of failure.

Boy trapped inside wall of trophies

Never Enough

There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with doing things well. The problem is that perfectionists usually base their self-worth on their ability to accomplish a goal. therefore, failure is a threat and is totally unacceptable to them.

Many high achievers are driven beyond healthy limitations. Rarely able to relax and enjoy life, they let their families and relationships suffer as they strive to accomplish often unrealistic goals. On the other hand, the same false belief (I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself) that drifves many to perfectionism sends others into a tailspin of despair. They rarely expect to achieve anything or to feel good about themselves. Because of their past failures, they are quick to interpret present failures as an accurate reflection of their worthlessness. Fearing more failure, they often become despondent and stop trying.

Compulsive Rule Follower

the pressure to meet self-imposed standards in order to feel good about ourselves can result in a rules-dominated life. Individuals caught in this trap often have a set of rules for most of life’s situations, and they continually focus their attention on their performance and ability to adhere to their own set of rules.

The focus of the Christian life should be on Christ, not on self-imposed regulations and legalism. Our experience of Christ’s lordship is dependent on our moment-by-moment attention to His instruction, not our own regimented system of false beliefs.

In my next posting I will be taking a closer look at teh effects of the fear of failure, and the belief that we must meet certain arbitrary standards in order to feel good about ourselves.


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