When is _____ enough?
This is one of the biggest questions I’ve wrestled with over the past few years. I’ve filled in the blank with jobs, relationships, adventures, and blog posts.
I’m a person who likes to go out and do stuff. A sense of ambition drives me to seek out new opportunities, relationships, and projects. The light in me wants to help, serve, and connect. The shadow in me wants to find the best way to gain recognition, congratulations and rewards.
I continue to push ahead, poking my head up to wonder…
Is this enough? Have I made it? Can I rest?
What I find most frustrating is spending too much time doing things I don’t really care about. But I can’t help getting caught in the cycle of measuring up to the standards of other people, real or imagined.
We all feel this way at times. Striving towards recognition for the good we’ve done, validation of our service. But how can we balance our ambition with a sense of contentment and rest?
Where I find this most difficult is balancing what God has done for me and what I feel I must do for myself. If God has already chosen and opened heaven for me, is there anything else in this world that is going to top it?
Let me put the balance another way
God, the creator of the universe, loves you and recognizes you as his child. He will protect you and care for you, and is making a home for you.
You don’t need to do anything more to earn this love. You don’t need a big promotion, successful kids, or million dollar fundraisers for God to look down on you and say,
“Well done, that’s good enough. You can come in now.”
God has already said yes to you. In the midst of your brokenness, your failures, your struggles, God is making you in to something new. He is saying,
“You can stop trying be good enough. You never will be all by yourself. Choose my love and mercy, and that will be enough. No more striving, no more seeking. Come and find rest.”
That sounds beautiful. It eases my soul. But my daily life and actions still struggle with this. Why do I struggle to maintain a balance between earthly ambition and heavenly contentment?
The answer should be obvious, right? Because I am enough in Christ, I don’t need to go out and prove my worth to anyone else! I can be with anyone, wear anything, and do any kind of work because God and Christ have given me a new name and meaning in life.
But the struggle remains. I want recognition, awards, and the blue check mark on Twitter. There are things you want as well, things we believe will help us be smart enough, cool enough, rich enough, powerful enough.
So where do we strike the balance? If you’re asking,
Matt, all of that self-assured contentment is nice, but I want that promotion, and I want to provide for my family.
I won’t argue with you. I would simply ask where the motivation is coming from.
Are you motivated by your inherent talents and gifts to make a difference? Or are you driven by a desire for ever-greater power, prestige, and possessions? It’s a tough question, but one we need to ask ourselves.
Now, I don’t believe God calls us to sit around and do nothing as a result of this truth. I believe we are called to action and contribution in our lives. So again, where’s the balance?
I believe there is great freedom in how God has named us. I believe we have an exciting opportunity to use our God-given talents to do meaningful work and change our communities.
You can do (almost) anything you want now. Since you don’t require affirmation and validation from others, are already chosen and imbued with meaning from the Creator.
The downside? Doing the crazy things you want to do will be difficult. It may mean having awkward conversations with loved ones, trying to explain yourself. You’ll instantly want to revert back to having a good job and nice car to get a couple high fives and be done with making sense of your grand plans.
What’s exciting to me is that when we are content with who God made us to be, and rest in the peace of being chosen and named,
We can be ambitious about whatever is deep in our hearts to go crazy over.
I’m so inspired and challenged by this thought. By not living to seek the approval and affirmation of others, to find meaning in an eternal purpose. I am free to pursue the things I enjoy and do well, or am free to NOT pursue them! The next step is to simply make a choice and hang on for dear life. More on that in another post.
I’ll end with this great quote from Simon Sinek, author of one of my favorite books, Start with Why.
Where and What Do You Place Your Value In?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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