I am a good _____________________ when I ________________________________.
How do you fill in that statement? What unconscious thoughts like that run through your head during the day? What expectations are you using to define your worth?
Our world is filled with “good enough” expectations. Books, media, videos, magazines – they constantly bombard us with how to be better, how to be more, the best ways to parent/eat/work/relate/and on and on. Often, without knowing it, we take these expectations upon ourselves and begin to define our worth based on them.
And then we fail. We can’t live up to those expectations.
We begin to adopt a value system for ourselves based on those unmet expectations. When we are successful, we are worthy. When we fail, we are unworthy. Sadly, this value system then works its way into our relationships. We base others’ value and worth on the expectations we have set. Our patience, love, and compassion for others begins to be based on whether or not they have earned it. It is a cycle that just doesn’t work. It is not how God designed us to live.
God’s desire is for us to live in a way that embraces His definition of who we are. When we clothe ourselves in who God says we are, we no longer ride the roller coaster of emotions and expectations that come from the world’s value system.
His labels for us are permanent.
There is nothing that can strip away the identity that God has given to you. You don’t have to work harder to be more valuable to God. Your value is defined by the blood of Jesus and that was HIS choice to give to you, not based on who you are or what you do. And that is true of each and every other person as well.
So how do we move from the roller coaster of personal and worldly expectations to living out God’s identity for us?
- Acknowledge. Start by identifying and acknowledging the expectations you place upon yourself, the ones you adopt from the world, and the ones you place on others. Use the statement at the top and write them down. Ask God to reveal them. I am a good husband when my family is financially secure. I am a good employee when I meet every deadline. I am a good Christian when I read my Bible every day. I am a good parent when my kids are well behaved. Spend time reflecting on your responses to various situations and the “good enough” expectations that are prompting those responses.
- Start with God. When we use our own expectations to define our worth, our statements begin with “I” – I am worthy because I got a promotion. I am not good enough because I yelled at my kids too much. Those value statements put ourselves at the center. However, when we start our value statements with “God”, our identity is shifted. God has redeemed me. I am valuable in spite of my failures. God has gifted me. My talent is a reflection of God’s creativity.
- End with God. Being given a permanent identity in Christ doesn’t mean the tasks of the world disappear. And it doesn’t mean we should go about our lives half-heartedly or choosing sin. Instead, our identity in Christ drives how we live out our daily lives. I work hard at my job as a way to give glory to God. I care for my children as an act of worship to God. I can choose a holy life through the power and victory given to me in Jesus.
- Embrace God’s Expectations. God’s desire is for you to know him, love Him and to let your life be a reflection of that love. He wants you to live in the freedom that comes from knowing that you are beloved, chosen, redeemed, and victorious. Hosea 6:6 says,
“I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.”
As we begin to reshape our understanding of who God says we are, and where our worth really comes from, we then begin to see others in the same way. As you release yourself from those expectations, you can release others from them as well. And then you can experience the freedom that comes from knowing that God has made you “good enough”.