Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Recovering overachievers unite

Mr. Lund will forever go down in history as being the one teacher in high school who was rude enough to give me a B.

It was my Junior year. He was so incredibly boring, I think I spent the better part of his class, Math Analysis, writing poetry in the margins of my notebook. I'm not sure if that fact is related to the getting of a B, but I'm pretty sure he just gave me one because he was that teacher: the kind who wants to ruin someone's straight A's just because he can.

That B really bugged me. If you haven't already gathered, overachieving became a sort of disease I didn't know I had for like twenty years. (If your heart skipped a beat at the sight of that scantron above, then you have it too.) And I can't really pinpoint when the change occurred, but for a handful of years now, I've considered myself Recovering.

I think the cure began to take effect when I learned about who I was in terms of my identity. Somewhere in my twenties, the truth about who I was in God's eyes began to reduce the defining potency of who I was in my parents' eyes. Or the world's eyes. Or my husband's eyes. Or, most importantly, my own eyes.  

I slowly learned that I live for an audience of One.

But that doesn't mean the overachieving tendency doesn't try to sneak up on me all the time. It just means I've learned to shut it down. The truth about who I am and who I need to be (actually, who I don't need to be) shuts it down instantly.

And here's how it's working right this minute. My tendency says:

Make New Year's resolutions!
Make plans!
Calendar stuff!
Draft up goals and visions and deadlines and promises! (Because if you make them, you know you'll keep them.)
Make it happen, and then feel good about it!

But Truth says:

Yeah, those are all good things.
But are they good for you? Right now?
Do not worry about tomorrow. (Matt 6:34)
All God requires is that you walk humbly with Him. (Micah 6:8)
Don't be anxious about anything. Pray instead. (Phil 4:6)
Cease striving, and know that God is God and you are not. (Psalm 46:10)

Truth reminds me that I don't have to do anything more than what God assigns me. That is such a relief. Because when I drum up all those extra goals and projects, all I manage to really do is wear myself out and rob myself from succeeding at my actual assignments!

I know right this minute what I have on my plate (in no particular order):
Being a daughter of the King
Home care manager
Meal manager
Bible Study
One ministry that I'm serving in

Those are all jobs He's either handed me just by virtue of my circumstances, or nudged me to take on at one point during my walk with Him. I'd say that is a lot. That list makes me really not want to add anything to it of my own accord.

So I guess my resolution is to do my current jobs well. To see my assignments as holy and valuable because they are from God Himself. I pray I can honor Him with my efforts.

The satisfaction I receive from the Lord for being a faithful worker for Him is truly far greater than any I received working for myself. Overachieving provides merely a cheap substitute for the real deal.

I think it's called Purpose.



  1. What a great reminder going into the new year! :)

  2. Okay, so this post totally just spoke wonders to me right now. I needed this little reminder, thanks.


  3. I *love* the Lund reference. I had him, too -- junior year, Math Analysis. And he has the distinction of being the only teacher who ever kicked me out of class!! I was so floored, I didn't even know what I was supposed to do... Go to the office? Sit outside?? So funny.

    Hope your 2012 is fantastic!

  4. I think we might be on the same path.....
    Great post, Leslie!

  5. So true Leslie... I love your list of what God's called you to right now. I definitely suffer from this and constantly have to remind myself to just be... me, who and what God's created me to be/for. Much love to you.

  6. As always, thank you for this!!! I've been trying to sort through things (goals and such) for this year, and this is so helpful :)

  7. yes. heck yes. purpose.
    thankful for this, thank you leslie!

  8. ah yes, beautifully said. and this is exactly what God was speaking to me this new year. just do the things He's already given me. do them well. anytime I set my own goals, resolutions, new habits, I fail. because I'm terrible with follow through and because they're my own idea of what I think He'll be pleased with. this year I decided to ask Him, and wouldn't you know it: His yoke is easy and His burden is light. devoting myself to prayer & believing Truth over lies, that's what He wants me to do. it only makes sense that those two things will help me to do my current jobs well. He is good and im ip for the task!

    happy new year my friend :)

  9. i'm *up* for the task, of course :)

  10. Love this Leslie. After the post I wrote last night, I need this reminder daily.

  11. so, so good.
    i only make myself anxious and cranky when i pour over the crazy expectations that i have set for myself.
    i want to be truly content with the jobs that the Lord has given me already.
    and do them as best that i can.
    with His help, of course. :)
    thank you, again, Leslie.

  12. whew Leslie, that was SO so good. for real. :) I so needed to hear that, especially the scriptures you shared that give me peace now about not planning, not being anxious, etc. so good. In the midst of everyone sharing resolutions, I needed to hear and remember these things. Im with ya. love you friend!!

  13. I'm a recovering over achiever, too. My B+ was from Mr. Clint in Trig... the nerve of that guy!! :)

    I'm learning that all that matters is what God wants me to achieve. I don't want to worrying about meeting my own expectations or anyone else's anymore. I just want to walk in His path... that is enough.

  14. i too got a B in high school. sometimes i get angry about it, but then i remember that i deserved it. [it keeps me humble...for the most part.]

    the more i read your blog, the more i'm convinced that we are too similar for our own good. [but redheads gotta stick together.]

    i'm curious what your myers-briggs type is. i have a feeling you either already know or are about to discover a new obsession.