Over a barbecue dinner, a friend in his mid-forties started complaining about his work. He is at the crossroads of finding his real purpose of living and working. I share the same concern; I have moments where I get bothered if I am able to maximize my full potential or if I am responding rightly to my real calling or purpose in life.
I realized that my worries are anchored most of the time to the scoring system formulated by the people and events surrounding myself. I measure my potential on how I fare to the expectations and interpretations of others.
One book author (John Ortberg) said “our behavior will be dictated by whatever scoring system we are hooked up emotionally. We need that inner sense of worth and well-being.” The question is, how satisfied we are with the system we’re living with? Most commonly we tend to keep score with the three C’s: comparing, competing, and climbing.
Psychologists say people engage in three types of comparing. They compare their situation to those who are better off, at the same level or to those who are worse off. Each type carries dangers: the first incites envy, the second competition, and the third arrogance.
Competition becomes toxic when it gives rise to envy and jealousy. It becomes dark when you are tempted to cheat in order to come out ahead. It poisons the soul when “winner” and “loser” become labels of worth and identity, and respect for the battle itself is lost.
The drive to keep climbing can go worse if you make your ladder your game, your family and your god. If you embrace your life living in Ladder Ville, once you get on one, it’s very hard to get off. We look at people highest up on the ladder and feel discontent. We don’t look at people lower on the ladder much because when you are climbing a ladder, you face upwards.
A life mainly focused on comparing, competing and climbing daily may make you miss the mark of actualizing your potential.
Only God knows your full potential, and he is guiding you toward that best version of yourself all the time. He has many tools and is never in a hurry. That can be frustrating for us, but even in our frustration, God is at work to produce patience in us. He never gets discouraged by how long it takes, and he delights every time you grow. Only God can see the “best version of you,” and he is more concerned with you reaching your full potential than you are.
The disconnect occurs when we get to be too conscious of our reputation rather than enjoying life’s process or embracing the character being developed on us by God on daily learnings. The extreme disconnect may lead to discouragements, depression, double lives, and wrong choices.
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
You are not your handiwork; your life is not your Project. Your life is God’s Project. God thought you up, and he knows what you were intended to be.
Acknowledging and allowing him to work in your life can set all the difference./BA
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